Archives: November 13, 2014 through August 8, 2017

Boatless in Oregon

We arrived in Seattle July 26, 2017, spent the night at Matt and Amy’s, then drove to Hood River, OR for an extended stay with family staying at Cindy’s sister, Donna’s home.

We have been very busy and having a wonderful time. Ironically, we had hoped to beat the heat in the NW and it is hotter than Florida.

View of Mt. Hood from Donna’s desk
View from deck within a few days caused by forest fires.
Fun family bar-b-q

We went up to the Adventure Park at Mt. Hood for a day trying to beat the 110 degree heat and it was 98 on the mountain. We had a fun day at the park, eating at Mt. Hood Brewing Company, and having some beers.

We found the mountain when we got up there!
Kira and Alia loving the carts just their size
Loved the climbing wall
Matt having fun with the rope challange
Did a great job at their first miniature golf game.
Nice ride on the ski lift
More fun riding down at 60 mph
So much fun on the treadmill which was in the water

Another day we decided to go back up the mountain to Lost Lake for some swimming and paddle boarding.

Alia doing a great job
The newest addition — Cleo, a six-month old Bernice Mountain Dog who is not a water dog!

We took the girls to movies in the park one night which was a blast. We packed up our chairs and blankets and watched the new Jungle Book under the stars while goring on popcorn. It was really an awesome night.

We went to the community pool several days which is partially covered by a dome which gave us some relief from the sun.

Waiting for our Table at Soltice

Donna left for Italy for a month on August 8 so we will be house sitting while she is gone. Matt and the girls returned to Seattle. So we plan on taking some day trips to visit parts of Oregon we have not seen.

Cruising from January 2017-June 2017

We arrived back on the boat with a welcome dinner with Matt and Cat and a fun boat ride the next day on their bow rider down the St. John’s River to a fun Sunday hang out, The Swamp House. It is a great place with live music and great people.

Cindy, Curt, Matt, Cat, Sabrina, Steve
Awesome Italian meal for Cindy’s birthday
So glad to visit with cousins Bruce & Elaine Wright at the Belgium Pub in Sanford

We will be back on the boat until July 26 when we fly to Seattle. Matt will pick us up, the next day we will be leaving for Hood River, OR with Matt, Amy, Alia, Kira, Cleo (new Bernice Mountain Puppy), their new camper and two cars.

Curt and I will be staying with Cindy’s sister, Donna for 6 weeks while the rest will camp for a few weeks. Unfortunately, Amy will return to Seattle to work.

We are excited to see the family in Oregon, take some day trips, and enjoy the awesome summer weather. Donna will be in Italy for a month so we will be house and car sitting and hanging out with the rest of the family.

In September Donna will take us to Seattle where we will visit for a while then we will proceed to Victoria, BC for our Hatteras Rendezvous. It will be a fun ferry ride up to Victoria. We will return to Seattle and return to the boat September 27.

As many of you know, we face many challenges living on our boat with the lifestyle we have. Most of the time it is awesome but we have to deal with expensive maintenance, breakdowns, weather, hauling our provisions aboard and many things folks do not realize. We take the hard with the good and have much more positive times.

However, we have run into our biggest challenge the past month with health issues. We stayed in Ohio longer than anticipated to try to get these issues straightened out. Some are being addressed and some need surgery. An emergency arose and Cindy was sent to the hospital to get a handle on the issue. We are trying to get that under control with medications and monitoring.

We will be returning to Ohio in October for Cindy to have her right rotator cuff operation. The recuperation for this surgery is 6 weeks in sling, 6 week (at least) of PT.

Curt has a back issue with numbness in both legs currently being treated with anti-inflammatory. It appears that we will need major back surgery to stabilize two compressed discs. We are not clear about the recuperation. It sure would ideal to have both surgeries together or near the same time but uncertain as to the logistics on that decision. Another issue that will require recoup and PT which also will not be boater friendly.

We did have a wonderful time while in Ohio for Jack’s 8th grade graduation from St. Ursula Villa. The day started with graduation mass, brunch at the country club, then graduation that night. A few days prior, we got to attend another special mass and the awards presentation. Jack received a national recognition medal in Spanish. We are just amazed at the education he is getting at the Villa and we look forward to the next 4 years for him at Moeller, all men’s high school.

Ice Cream Graduation Cake

We were able to attend 2 swim meets, enjoy their friends and neighbor’s pools and parties, and travel to our home town, Alliance, Ohio.

We attend our 50th Class Reunion weekend and had a fabulous time. Fortunately, we both graduated the same year so we both knew most everyone. It was special reconnecting after all those years with so many special people that formed our lives. We wish we could get together with them all more often because it was so amazing.

Toured Castle in town with Classmates
Our high school hangout

While we were in Alliance, we drove around town to see our old homes, went to the special restaurants and bars which have not changed, and visited Cindy’s 108-year-old Great Aunt.

We left Alliance and continued north to Vermillion for another amazing visit with Cindy’s cousin Paula, her children, and brand new granddaughter.

We had planned to stop and visit another cousin, Debbie and Myron on our way back to Cincinnati; sadly, doctors were calling from Cincinnati.

It has taken us several days to clean the outside of the boat after being gone and getting our dinghy ready for sale. We have a brand new, larger dinghy that we are excited to get on the boat. We need to get this done before leaving for the NW.

Our winter plans, sadly, at this point, are up in the air but we hope we can get all these issues cared for and head to the Bahamas.

May 18

We arrived “home” to Monroe Harbor Marina on the 12th and were greeted by old friends. It was great to come back to a familiar place. We joined dock mates for a great dinner at one of our favorites, the Greek restaurant.

We had a pleasant trip on the way up from Ft. Pierce except the midges or blind mosquitos are back. They come by the tens of thousands and so very annoying. Fortunately, they do not bite but swarm and hang everywhere. We have had to clean the boat numerous times a day to try to keep up with them. If you do not get them off, they stain the boat with green marks. As of today, they seem to be dying off. We hope so!

Also, we were greeted by two alligators; one 9' and the other much larger. They have become aggressive and are laying on the docks. The gators hunters came yesterday and they are gone.

We have been cleaning the boat inside and out trying to get all the salt, sand, and crude off of her and are making some progress.

Belinda and Jim came to visit on Monday and Tuesday and, as always, it was great catching up with them. We walked up to one of the new micro-breweries, had a beer, returned to the dock for cocktails and dinner.

We will be leaving for Ohio for several weeks on Saturday for visiting and doctor’s appointments.

May 8

We stayed in Ft. Pierce for four days at our friends, Vince and Mary’s dock which is always pleasant. The three boats we crossed over with were staying at a marina close by and our friends Linda and Steve recently purchased a condo just minutes from our friends house.

It was great seeing Linda and Steve again and spending some time and being able to see their new condo. Sadly, they sold Coral Bay just a few weeks before our arrival. We will miss not cruising with them and hope they will be back into the boat business soon.

We also went to the marina a few times to see our friends, borrowed Vince and Mar’s car for grocery, marine, and hardware store errands, and had dinner with them.

We left Ft. Pierce yesterday travelling 71 miles to Cape Canaveral anchoring off the NASA viewing area and had a great night. It would have been awesome if a launch would have been scheduled. Today, we are anchored in Daytona Beach.

We plan on being back in Sanford, FL at Monroe Harbor Marina on Saturday.

May 4

Happy Birthday Matt!

May 3

We made the crossing today with a last minute decision. On May 1, we were scheduled to leave but an emergency pre-dawn Captain’s meeting was called as new weather information surfaced. Storms coming across Florida were scheduled to arrive in Ft. Pierce late afternoon carrying extremely high winds, rain, and thunderstorms. We aborted the crossing deciding we could not avoid this storm.

Since May 2 did not look good, we decided we had no choice but to pay the expensive dockage at Old Bahama Bay and wait for a good window. We had a nice day at the marina.

Cindy was awoken at a little after 7 am today by the Captain and advised we were leaving. Fifteen minutes later, we were exiting the inlet. Weather calmed, it looked good so we headed out. The first four and one-half hours were beautiful, calm, warm and then we hit a storm. We were able to avoid the squall but it changed the wind direction and speed. The remaining seven hours were ok but certainly not the way the day started.

May 1

We arrived today from Great Sale at Old Bahama Bay Marina& Resort, West End, Grand Bahamas Island to enjoy the resort and, sadly, our last day in the Bahamas. Drinks at the Tiki Bar and pool then a nice dinner at the restaurant.

The weather and crossing could be better but if we do not cross now, it will be several weeks.

Our new friends on Jilly Q and Starlight Express have been with us since Green Turtle and will be crossing as well. We image a big flotilla will be out there for this short weather window.

Our friends on Cruising Cat, Emerald Lady, and Seahorse III arrived in Green Turtle. We visited the famous Miss Emily’s Blue Bee Bar to sample (we had a gallon plus a round) her amazing Goombay Smash then went to the beautiful pool at their marina.

We moved from the marina to a mooring ball for the last three days in Green Turtle.

Our friends and dock mates from Hope Town, Toby and Joanne on Comoceon, arrived with their guests and stayed at Green Turtle Club. We had a wonderful time with them at the Italian Wine and Cheese an amazing tasting at the club. We want to return to Italy.

We left Green Turtle on April 29, anchoring at Manjack Cay for the night. We dinghied to the north part of the island to feed the rays and nurse sharks. It was fun being in the water with them and hand feeding the rays. The sharks did eat but not out of our hands as nurse sharks are, for the most part, timid.

The following day, we traveled west to a beautiful island in the middle of nowhere, Great Sale anchoring for the night.

April 26

Took a dinghy ride to No Name Cay to see the Abaco pigs. They are cut but not as cool as the Exuma piggies. These pigs stayed in an area where they are to be feed instead of swimming out to the dinghies.

April 25

We are currently at the Bluff House Marina on Green Turtle Cay, April 25 arriving yesterday after a good passage through the Whale. The Whale passage is known for dangerous conditions with north or east winds so careful planning is necessary when transiting this passage. It requires exiting the Sea of Abaco going into the Atlantic then returning back into the Sea of Abaco being careful to avoid the reefs.

We had a great and very fast week with Stephanie, Adam, and Jack. They arrived on Good Friday so we left Hope Inn to pick them up in Marsh Harbour. Our plan was to go over, anchor, pick them up, then return to Hope Inn on Friday. Fortunately, we found out all the stores were closed on Good Friday so we went over Thursday so we could go to the grocery store, anchored for the night, and awaited their arrival at 1:30 pm Friday.

They were able to clear customs, get to the dock, onto the boat, and we were back in Hope Town by 4:30 pm so they could enjoy the pool for the evening.

Saturday, we showed them around Hope Town, had lunch at our favorite, Wine Down Sip Sip then enjoyed the pool for the evening. Sunday, we went to Easter Mass which is held at the library in the park by the playground. They enjoyed the experience and after mass a nice reception. We then walked to Da Beach Bar for snacks and drinks enjoying the beautiful beach.

It was extremely windy Saturday and Sunday but the winds calmed somewhat so we were able to leave Monday and headed to Pete’s Pub in Little Harbor. We hiked to an abandoned lighthouse, went to Pete’s and enjoyed the scenery. The next day we snorkeled Snake River with the rays and turtles then on to Tahiti Beach for a few days of beach fun, kayaking, sea biscuit hunting and a drink at The Abaco Inn.

Mist coming off the Atlantic

Our next stop was Great Guana Cay where we had a fun afternoon on the Atlantic beach at Nippers drinking the famous Nippers. Then we had to sample the Grabber at Grabbers Bar on the Sea of Abaco side. Jack was hunting for a coconut all week and was able to find a local to get him one to drink the water and sample the meat.

Sadly, the week was coming to an end so we needed to work our way back to Marsh Harbour stopping to snorkel Mermaid Reef. Stephanie and I went shopping after we anchored in Marsh Harbour, stopped for a drink at Curley Tails, and enjoyed the view of the harbor.

We went to visit our friends staying at The Jib Room for apps and drinks and had a great time visiting. They left Saturday at noon, arriving home at midnight with a 6 hour layover in Atlanta. Luckily, they have friends that met them for dinner near the airport to kill some time.

Jack and Sharon

The forecast was calling for high winds and heavy rain on Sunday so we decided to try to get a slip at the marina. So did everyone else. We were able to get a slip at Treasure Cay Marina so went 15 miles and were so glad we did as Sunday was a very bad weather day. We had gale force winds and heavy rains all day and night. A very good decision to not be on anchor.

The weather calmed and we were able to make our way to Green Turtle Cay. We were here for over a week last year and enjoy the island especially the Tranquil Turtle Beach Bar and the Tranquil Turtle Run Drinks.

We are waiting for our friends to arrive from Marsh Harbour and will be traveling with them for the next few weeks and crossing back to the states.

We made many new friends this year and found some old ones. We had a great time with “Putz N Around, Bridgett and Scott, “Sum Escape”, Julie & Tom, and “Grand Baron”, Tom & Vickie, “Comoceon”, Toby and JoAnne while in Hope Town.

Great dinner at The Abaco Inn

April 7
 Greetings from Paradise. We have been extremely busy having fun and not keeping up with the website.

We had a blast for a week when Matt and Cat arrived on March 13 from Sanford. The winds were high so we traveled around Abacos on a 19' center console. They enjoyed visiting the beautiful, quaint Hope Town, sampling the drinks and food and visiting several other cays.

We visited Tahiti Beach, Man-of-War, Marsh Harbour, and Great Guana. On Great Guana we celebrated St. Patrick’s Day (Happy Birthday, Stephanie) at Nippers with the Caribbean-famous Barefoot Man concert. We went with about 20 of our friends and had a very fun day on the gorgeous beach at Nippers.

The week went very fast and were so glad they were able to join us. Hoping they can return again next year.

On March 19, we took them to Marsh Harbour in the center-console boat, went to the only large grocery store in the Abacos, and waited for Matt, Amy, Alia, and Kira. They arrived a few hours later.

We loaded up the boat with luggage, people, and groceries making our way back to Hope Town.

Their two-week stay also went very fast. We anchored out several nights, snorkeled many of the gorgeous reefs, swam in the heated pool, played on the beach, rented bikes, attended Mass in the playground, visited the library, climbed the lighthouse, and just enjoyed this wonderful place.

Classic Cyn marked in backgound

Alia, turning 6 in June, snorkeled the entire time her dad did and kept up with him. She absolutely loved it and even chased fish. Such an amazing sight to see her doing such a fantastic job and absolutely loving it.

We snorkeled the famous Sandy Cay Reef two times observing all the beautiful fish and dozens of different types of coral. One night we anchored close of an inlet where we swam with dozens of rays and turtles. It was quite spectacular so we went back two times.

The girls wanted to find shells so we took them to a spoil island near a large inlet off the Atlantic and they were enchanted with their take of shells. They found a dead Sea Star (a real find) and several nice conch shells. The wanted to find a Sea Biscuit and a Sand Dollar with no luck. Luckily, Gramsy had a few extras they could take home.

We went to the National Park and snorkeled Fowl Caye twice which is a double reef in the Atlantic. It was also very beautiful. We visited Little Harbour and Pete’s Pub so they could see the brass sculpture foundry, and hiked to the beach. Matt snorkeled while Amy and girls played in the sand. Kira does not like to snorkel so she returned to the boat with us so Matt, Amy, and Alia could get in some more snorkeling.

We broke out the Hookah (third lung) so Matt could play and clean the bottom. He was making progress when the batteries died. We recharged them overnight and he proceeded the next morning to complete the job. However, he was rudely interrupted when a bull shark hit him in the leg. He, of course, was rather shocked and momentarily paused to consider what type of shark he was dealing with. He immediately got out of the water so the bottom is almost clean. Bull sharks are very mean and tend to feed in the mornings and evenings when the tide is running.

The night before they had to leave, we anchored in the harbor at Marsh Harbour and dinghied over to where are friends are staying at a marina and the girls enjoyed playing in the pool while we enjoyed their signature Bilge Burners.

We thank Walt for bringing his dinghy over in the morning to get them and all their gear to the dock. Walt hauled most of the luggage and we made two trips in our dinghy. It sure was a huge help to have another dinghy.

They were able to get home in one day with good connections and all went well. They had to overnight in Ft. Lauderdale on the way so it was nice to be able to return home in one day.

They were very excited as the day after their return Matt was driving to Portland to pick up their 10-week old Bernice Mountain Puppy, named Cleopatra (Cleo). All is going well with her; she is active but calm.

We stayed in the harbor that night, went for drinks and dice with our friends, then out to dinner, returning to Hope Town the next day.

We have been enjoying walking the town, meeting many new friends for dinners and drinks, and spending everyday at the pool. Tonight, many of us are going to the beautiful Abaco Inn for prime rib dinner.

We have the boat cleaned, beds changed, laundry done awaiting Adam, Stephanie and Jack who will be arriving on April 14. Easter is very late this year so their winter vacation has been delayed. They are really looking forward to this wonderful climate with temps in the 80’s and tropical breezes.

We are currently having more gale force winds with a huge storm and rain overnight. This winter has been extremely windy so we are glad we are in a marina so we can come and go as needed.
 
 March 4

We arrived in Hope Town Inn and Marina which will be our home for the next two months. We had fun at Little Harbour for four days and had a great day for our 20-mile trip to Hope Town.

We are currently experiencing another large front bringing gale force winds making us happy to be tied to a dock. The front will not pass until Thursday with a chance of another one behind it. We are ready for these fronts to be over.

The marina has two pools, one heated, a hot tub, restaurant, swim-up bar, and an on-demand shuttle to any dock across the harbor to the Settlement. We generally go over once or twice a day.

Marina views:

Most everything is in the Settlement like stores, library, churches, assortment of bars, and restaurants, coffee shop, etc.

Last night we attended the SOPS club Happy Hour at Wine Down Sip Sip. We joined the club last year, a dubious organization with a purpose of chatting with friends over a flagon of a favorite libation. A group without rules, directories, by-laws, meetings, committees, or fundraisers. The only goal is to gather like-minded souls for the camaraderie.

February 25 Happy 4th Birthday Kira!

We were able to leave Great Harbour yesterday traveling 13 miles anchoring to stage for our 75-mile run outside to The Abacos. We were in a harbor between two cruise ship private islands; one Royal Caribbean’s Cocoa Caye and Norwegian’s Great Stirrup Caye. It was not an ideal anchorage as we had to reset and move six times but finally we were hooked and had a pleasant night.

Two other trawlers we met at the marina came in and we ran with them to Little Harbour. We had great weather and an awesome crossing. This crossing is longer than crossing from the states to the Bahamas. We had 4–6’ seas but the distance was 10 seconds apart so we rode the swells up and down. There was no wind chop so it was a pleasant ride.

We were very happy to come into Little Harbour at Pete’s Pub and found 3 moorings open. Since it was 3 pm, a popular place, and another front arriving tomorrow, we were concerned. Thankfully, it all worked out great.

February 21

Still waiting and watching the weather. Last night we decided to attend the weekly cover dish dinner at the gazebo. We generally do not like to attend those types of events but were bored. We were glad we went. Good food and company. The dock master brought Curried Wahoo – a real winner.

February 19

Our plans were to leave on the 17th heading to The Abacos. We did not like the forecast so stayed. The next day, it looked better so we checked out last night ready to head out this morning. However, the updated forecast was not good so we are here for at least a week. We are as fickle as the forecast

The seas were forecast to be 3–6’ every 3 seconds from the NE in the Atlantic off The Abacos. Entering into a narrow cut with rocks on both sides turning west, being pushed into the inlet would not be fun in this conditions. That may be been stressful and doable but for several days the winds and seas inside the Sea of Abaco are forecast to be 5–7’ every 2–3 seconds. Since we need to anchor for a few days before arriving in Hope Town, it was prudent to stay put.

We were disappointed but at least we are safe. The nice Harbormaster made our day by giving us one of our favorites, fresh caught wahoo. We are very excited to cook that tonight.

It has been very quiet here with our friends left but many boats are still coming in and out of the marina.

On Valentine’s Day, we declined two of the dinners at local restaurants on the island and took the dinghy out to a beach for martini’s and sunset. It was beautiful.

In preparation for leaving, we put the dinghy up spending several hours cleaning because she had been in the water for almost a month. The water is so clean but “stuff” still starts growing. We will be putting her up more frequently in the future.

We also had the bottom of the big boat cleaned which took a while as well. While he was cleaning, a young manatee was hanging around. She loved having her belly rubbed. The diver said he has a hard time working because she stays right next to him and he can’t move or scrap the boat.

He would take a break, come up, and play with her. The neighbor’s young girls jumped in to swim with her, had a ball, and the diver was able to finish. They were riding her, rubbing her, and just having an amazing time. By the time, I decided to go in, she was gone. Hopefully, another day.

We also decided to take our 300' of chain out of the locker, put it on the dock, and remark the depths. We mark it every 25 feet with spray paint and ties so we know exactly how much chain we have out when anchored. That was not a fun job since the chain is very heavy dragging it down the dock but another project that is good to have done.

We also bought 10 conchs to freeze and bring with us. It is much easier than catching and cleaning them.

We continued to take long walks exploring the island and rode bikes into town to have lunch at Cooliemae’s. It is a local establishment so we had to have cracked conk and beer. We meet a delightful couple from NJ that are here bone fishing. Most everyone in the marina wonders to the gazebo for cocktails at sunset which is a fun part of the day.
 
 February 13

The weekly Grill & Chill was Friday night including the Valentine’s Dance. Great music, food, people, and a full moon. The food is a choice of ribs, steak or chicken with yummy Bahamian sides of mac and cheese, rice and peas, pasta salad.

Our friends 24-year old son, Dallas (mentioned below) had a huge time dancing and loving the music. He made it so much fun and such a joy to watch him enjoying himself. He loved keeping his hand on the speaker so he could feel the vibration. The Bahamian people are just amazing, patient and kind to him.

Saturday night we had a Farwell dinner at the gazebo for the other 3 boats we are with as they are heading out for The Abacos. Great food, company and dice. We will be following sometime next week.

They all left Sunday morning traveling 18 miles around the island to the anchorage by the Beach Club, 1 mile by land. By boat because of the shallow water and small cays, you have to make a large loop to get to the other side. We rode with Cruising Cat, enjoyed the day, drank champagne, floated in the beautiful gin clear water on anchor with everyone then Walt took us to the beach by dinghy and we walked back to the boat. It is very quiet at the marina because over half the boats left because of a few days of good weather.

February 10

We rented a car with 3 other couples so we could haul all our stuff to a gorgeous, secluded beach for the day. We started off at the Beach Club for lunch and drinks then proceeded to the beach. We planned the day for a low tide so we could walk across a sand bar to Hawks Nest Cay. It was a fun walk across the bar with the deepest part about waist high. We collected many sand dollars, sea biscuits, and some urchins. The air and water temperature were perfect so it was a really great day.

Before we headed out, the girls went to the grocery and liquor store. They have a great deal at the liquor store 12 bottles = 20% discount. It was a good opportunity to stock of on heavy things. We pulled our bottles to get the discount.

The next morning, the girls explored the north side of the island visiting the ruins of a once spectacular hotel, some more amazing, deserted beaches, and caves. Apparently, we did not go far enough because we never found the caves.

The marina filled up the last few days because of a front blowing through so it has been fun meeting new people and connecting with some we already know.

One of our friends planned to come before the front this week. However, some issues arose and he could not come. He was bringing us needed parts. Curt had to replace our water pump and we like to have a spare. They seem to have a shorter lifespan than we like but we don’t want to risk being without water. A few other things have broken so it was nice to have the goods coming.

He felt bad about our parts and knew someone else that was crossing that day. He kindly delivered the parts to the other boat, they arrived, are moored 2 slips down, and hand delivered our parts. It was fun watching them (and our parts) on AIS as they crossed over and we are relieved to have our spare.

February 8

We had a great time at the Superbowl party with wings, chili, nachos, pizza. It was a fun evening and we met some new arrivals.

The next day we walked around the deserted golf resort that was built in the 1970's by mafia and drug money. The area attracted many rich and famous but it could never support itself. It is very sad to observe the grandeur that was built and now decaying.

We have been playing a dice game, Captain, Ship, Crew. Curt and I lost all our quarters but it is a fun game anyway.

We hired one of the dock hands to take us and another dinghy in the search for conch. We had a really fun day returning with 27 conch. We looked for lobster with no luck. The conch spot was just off the cruise ship island, Coco Cay.

It was a huge chore cleaning all the conch but Trimikia did most of the work and the dinner was awesome.

Buddy, The Birthday DogBuddy, The Birthday Dog

February 5

Superbowl Sunday. There is a party at the marina with very little information circulating about the details. So, we are going and may or may not partake in the buffet after observing. We will watch the game for sure.

This morning we celebrated Buddy’s 12th birthday. Buddy is a very special therapy dog for his “buddy”, Dallas. Dallas is 24 and has Autism. The menu was yummy breakfast burritos, Bellini’s, brownies and carrot cake. Great way to kick off Sunday Funday.

Yesterday, we took the dinghies to a private beach and spent the afternoon in the water and playing with the rays. They are accustomed to being feed so came right up to us. Last night we introduced some folks to Cards Against Humanity. Another great day.

February 3
 
 We finally found the Shark Creek which was an amazing trip through the mangroves to the ocean. The beach was spectacular but we couldn’t stay long as the creek can only be navigated at high tide even in a dinghy.

We continue to have Happy Hour every night on different boats and last night was Pizza Night. Orders are placed earlier in the day, a local makes them, and delivers to your boat. We all had them delivered to the gazebo and had a great time with really good pizzas.

January 31

We have two celebrities at our marina – Jack Nicklaus on his 130’ Westport, Sea Bear, and Allan Jackson on his 58’ teak and mahogany Merritt, Hullbully. Hullbully was used in the music video of “Its Five O’clock Somewhere” https://youtu.be/BPCjC543llU

That’s Allan Jackson waving

This is probably the most excitement we will have all month. We also took a very long dinghy ride looking for the Shark Creek to ride through the mangroves to the oceon. We had six dinghies, several GPS units and maps and still couldn’t find it! Tomorrow we will find it!
 
 January 30

Dinghy rides, beach bars, cocktail times, bike riding have been composing our days. Yesterday we rainy, cold, windy- probably 60ish. Today is still extremely windy as we await another front to go through.

We are having a great time with our friends and, once again, happy to be tied to a dock.

January 24
 
 The high winds are still blowing and have been very high at times but seem to be settling down. We hope tomorrow will be a dinghy day.

We have been enjoying cocktails each night with our friends and taking walks to the beautiful beaches. Yesterday, the seas were predicted to be 11’ but from the beach it did not appear they were; however, it is probably a much different situation away from the island.
 
 January 22

We are extremely grateful to be in the beautiful Berry Islands with empty, unspoiled beaches, snorkeling on pristine reefs and wrecks, a blue hole, a very friendly marina, catching up with old friends, and meeting many new ones.

We had an amazing weather window to cross over on Wednesday, January 18 leaving West Palm Beach at 7 am. The inlet was busy with many others taking advantage of this great opportunity. The winds, as usual, were higher than anticipated but not bad.

Crossing the Gulf Stream needs to be done with caution and planning because it is actually a river in the ocean that runs from south to north in excess of 6 knots. So, with a slow trawler it is critical to plan for the crossing. Generally, the plan is to start south and use the push of the stream.

We decided, along with several other boats, to take the more direct route and cross and stream from north to south at an angle. We generally run about 7 knots but we were decreased to about 4.5 at the worst point. That is tolerable but anything lower would have us treading water. We did alter course to make a U-turn around the stream, heading north, east, and back south which helped.

We arrived at the Bahama Banks at 7 pm. The banks are shallow, offer some protection from the islands and are an easy cruise. Since it was dark when we reached the banks and we still had 70 miles to go, we decided with a few other boats that were out there to decrease our speed to 4.5 knots and have a slow cruise arriving outside the marina in the morning as opposed to arriving at night.

We could not go through the narrow cut and into the marina at night, there is a good anchorage outside the entrance but we decided that many boats would probably be anchored and did not want to risk anchoring at night.

So, we decreased our speed and had a lovely cruise all night. The seas were flat calm with hardly a ripple, no wind, star filled sky, a half moon, and a boat 2 miles in front, and one 1 mile behind. It was nice to have company when you are out there. We took turns napping and felt OK when arriving after 27 hours.

We arrived outside the cut about 9 am, got to the marina and tied up before 10 am. Customs is amazingly simple here at Great Harbour Marina as the customs man came to the boat, cleared us in, and sat and chatted for an hour.

We had purchased a SIM card from Mr. Sim before coming the same as last year. However, this year it would not activate which was very frustrating since I couldn’t let the kids know we were in. We could see the huge tower for miles and should have been able to have service.

As soon as we were tied up, I got the wifi password so I could email them and email Mr. Sim. I believe he dropped the ball, did not activate it on his end because as soon as I messaged him, it started working. Very frustrating especially since we paid considerably more for the card so we would have it.

We were able to meet the other boaters we had talked to all night, got organized, and slept great Thursday night.

Friday, our friends on Cruisin Cat arrived with Emerald Lady and Seahorse III. They had never been to this island so we showed them the beach and the beach bar. We all went to the weekly Friday night Grill and Chill and had a great Bahamian meal.

We had another friend who decided to anchor off the gorgeous pristine beach so we meet them at the beach bar for lunch on Saturday. It was great to catch up with them and visit with Penny and Lucy to get our Brittany fix.

Saturday night we went to the Cuban Pig Roast culminating the Wahoo Tournament that was held here over the weekend. Prizes were awarded for the Tournament; a great DJ, food, company for a very pleasant evening.

Today, Sunday, we are all preparing for a huge front that is approaching, the worst arriving tonight with sustained winds at 41 knots, seas to 11'. We are in a very protected marina and will be very protected from the direction of the winds. At times like this it is nice to be in a safe harbor. The winds will subside by Wednesday with another front approaching next weekend.

We are here for a month, or longer if the fronts continue, so we don’t have to deal with moving to be in the best protected place for the winds.

The food barge came in last night so the grocery store down the street is buzzing with activity. It is an exciting weekly event. We are still provisioned but went and picked up a few fresh things.

We look forward to getting the dinghy down and start exploring but will wait until this blow goes through.

January 16
 We spent a great 4 days with Vince and Mary visiting and getting completely ready for the Bahamas. As a bonus, Steve and Linda were on their boat, Coral Bay, so we were able to visit with them, their son and grandson.

We visited the National Navy Seal Museum in Ft. Pierce. It is located in Ft. Pierce because it was the first base the Seals trained during WWII. It was fantastic making us grateful for the amazing people whose dedication, bravery, and talents protect us in ways we aren’t always aware. We thank all the Seals, past and present, for their training and service for our freedom and safety.

We are anchored at the inlet at West Palm Beach and will survey the weather for our next move. It looks promising for a crossing in the next few days. We just need to decide where to leave from and where to go. Our destination is Great Harbour Marina, the Berry’s.

January 13

We arrived at Vince and Mary’s dock in Faber Cove, Ft. Pierce yesterday. It is amazing but it took 9 days, 285 miles, and 50 hours running to get here. Sanford is really inland but was a wonderful place to summer and spend hurricane season; we are planning on returning in the summer.
 
 Classic Cyn (left) next to her big sister, Betty B.

The weather is beautiful in Ft. Pierce. We walked to a great beach bar, Archie’s, last night with Vince and Mary and had a fun dinner. This morning at 7 am we walked a few blocks to the inlet to watch the sport fishing boats leaving for a big fishing tournament. What a sight and sound to hear all those huge engines racing and trying to be the first out. This inlet is a challenge under normal conditions because of the current but with all those boats it was a sight to behold.

We are not sure when we will be continuing south because we do not see a weather window to cross to the Bahamas in at least a week. We are 2 or 3 days from a staging point to cross so we will most likely stay here at a dock for a few days before continuing south.

It gave Curt a chance to work on the fuel pressure switch that went out our first day out and be able to go get the parts, change the generator oil since we had to run it so much coming down to stay warm, and a few other projects.

The weather is beautiful in Ft. Pierce. We walked to a great beach bar, Archie’s, last night with Vince and Mary and had a fun dinner. This morning at 7 am we walked a few blocks to the inlet to watch the sport fishing boats leaving for a big fishing tournament. What a sight and sound to hear all those huge engines racing and trying to be the first out. This inlet is a challenge under normal conditions because of the current but with all those boats it was a sight to behold.

We are not sure when we will be continuing south because we do not see a weather window to cross to the Bahamas in at least a week. We are 2 or 3 days from a staging point to cross so we will most likely stay here at a dock for a few days before continuing south.

It gave Curt a chance to work on the fuel pressure switch that went out our first day out and be able to go get the parts, change the generator oil since we had to run it so much coming down to stay warm, and a few other projects. 
 
 January 10, 2017

We are making good progress, fighting winds, cold weather, and storms. Today, we are anchored in Cape Canaveral off the space center, last night anchored in Daytona Beach with a forecast that is becoming tolerable. We spent the weekend in St. Augustine.

Saturday night, we took the dinghy to shore to meet our friends Mike and Lori on Cheshire. We had a delightful dinner at the Floridian with a lot of catching up to do as we last saw them about 16 months ago, also in St. Augustine.

It was a very cold dinghy ride with winds gusting to over 35 knots and the temperatures dropping. It dropped to 30 degrees that night. I even had to bring my herbs inside!

August 31, 2016

Our huge bucket-list experience began on August 31 when we flew from Orlando for a 7-hour layover in Chicago, and finally on the direct flight to Rome. It started with our prepaid driver leaving because it took one hour for our luggage to appear then the landlord that was to meet us left, and we had no cell phone. It was a little stressful but we were in Rome!

We hired another ride, sat outside our flat until the landlord returned, got settled, and started to explore. We stayed in the Jewish Ghetto, a trendy, fun neighborhood that is centrally located to walk most anywhere in Rome.

Our flat was in an ancient building, a fourth-floor walk-up with no air conditioning so had to keep the windows open. While planning the trip, we did not think that would be a problem; however, Rome was extremely hot the entire time, our neighborhood was a pedestrian street — awesome but the dozens of bars and restaurants were very loud and lively until 2 or 3 am. Then the street cleaners and garbage trucks arrived as the bars were closing and by the time they were done the school children started coming to the Jewish School across the street. So, each night we decided if we wanted to deal with the heat or the noise.

We loved the area, the experience of living, shopping, cooking, taking public transportation, including things we had not thought about which were stressful, and confusing at times but all fantastic. Our neighborhood was in an area that kept us lost for several days but we eventually went the right direction every day. Not only were we lost but so was our Italian phone!

The Jewish Ghetto was exactly that hundreds of years ago, the powers to be thought it would be a good idea to round up all the Jews and put them in a walled area of the city. They could come and go during the day so their talents could be utilized but the gates were closed at night. They lived in horrendous conditions, a Catholic Church was built as a means of intimidation at the entrance and a Convent was inside the walls. Many children were forced to attend school at the Convent. Sadly, today many of the people that lived there or had family roots are unable to afford the escalating prices this trendy neighborhood now commands. Kosher, Jewish food is still on the menu, the Jewish older people hang out on the benches and gossip all day, there is are Jewish delis and many Jewish Pastry Shops.

We choose September because we thought it would be cooling down and the tourist season would not be as heavy. Both assumptions were wrong.

The thousands of tourists, huge tour groups, rude people really wore on us as the time went by. We were extremely happy to move to the quieter lifestyle in Tuscany for October.

In Rome, we were fortunate to attend the Pope’s Wednesday audience. We were in the front section with a seat within 75 yards of the Pope. It was hectic but amazing as we received his blessing and listened to his speeches. We returned to the Vatican on several occasions for a small 12 people tour to the Necropolis below St. Peters. We saw Roman age archaeological excavations below the Vatican, walked through burial chambers filled with frescos, many private chapels, the tomb of St. Peter including one of his bones, and dome of St. Peters from the vents below. It was amazing to be standing several floors below the dome and be able to look up seeing the huge bronze canopy alter (ciborium), statues, and dome.

My favorite statue in St. Peters is the amazing Michelangelos Pieta. Instead of kissing the statue of St. Peter’s, I rubbed his foot.

We also took small bus tour of the manicured Vatican Gardens, and toured the Vatican Museum, and Sistine Chapel. We wanted to go up into the Dome of St. Peters but the lines were just too long. We went back several times but finally gave up.

We saw all the other major sites, walking miles. We probably went into a hundred churches — well at least Cindy did. Curt OD’d on churches very soon. They were all fascinating, each having their amazing history from the chains of St. Peters to the skulls of several Saints. Cindy attended Mass every week and was fascinated listening in Italian and basically knew what was happening.

One very interesting church, even for Curt, was the Basilica of St. Clement which is actually 2 churches. Excavations under the church revealed 2 more levels beneath discovering the 4th century Basilica. Many frescos remain, fragments of sculpture and inscriptions on the walls. The alter from the original Basilica is still in tack.

San Giovanni in Laterano dated AD 318 is the home church of the Pope. Once elected, the Pope must sit in the chair at the alter to be official. The Holy Stairs near the Pop’s private chapel. St. Helena brought 28 marble stops from Pontius Pilates residence in Jerusalem- the steps Jesus climbed the day we were sentenced to die. You can climb on your knees only with a special prayer for each step. Small glass covered holes shows the stains of Jesus blood.

One night we took the Dole Vita Stroll – or evening passeggiata starting at the Piazza del Popolo down the pedestrian Via del Corso to the Spanish Steps then the Trevi Fountain.

We loved the Colosseum, Forum, Pantheon, all the statues, piazzas, and fountains, the people, food and, of course, the wine. We even found a new drink-an Aperol Spritz that began a nightly Happy Hour custom at one of the many local bars.

Our favorites were the Colosseum, Forum, Borghese Gallery, and Ostia Antica (20 miles east of Rome). Ostia Anticay is much like Pompeii but in better condition because it was buried in silt and undiscovered until recent years.

Ostia Antica. Over 2,000 years old. Used today, seats 40,000.

Check out the bar in Ostia Antica!
 
 On September 30, we returned to the airport to pick up our rental car and drove to Orvieto in Umbria where we spent the night in a lovely B&B.

We enjoyed visiting St. Patrick’s Well, double helix steps. One way down, one way up. The steps were made large enough for donkeys to transit to 100' depth.

The city is fantastic with the huge, colorful domo, underground tour of Estrusian caves, St. Patrick’s well, a climb up the bell tower for spectacular views of the area. We stopped a Tods, a medieval city, on our drive through the beautiful lake area to our next flat in Colle de Val d’Elsa in the heart of Chianti. It is located between Siena and Florence.

The Caves

Our home in Colle de Val d’Elsa. On first floor. Entrance going up the hill just after the wall.

One of our favorite wineries producing 1,000 bottles a year and mama cooking meals!

We loved the area and our flat was perfect. The temperature was substantially cooler in Tuscany which was a great change. Colle de Val d’Elsa is an ancient walled city; the wall in our living room was the wall of the tower and our view was the new city below and the Tuscan countryside.

We drove the country side everyday, stopping at wineries most every day and visiting the many walled cities. We saw all the famous ones and some not so famous ones but finally decided that all walled cities look the same and were crammed with tourists. We visited wineries that produced 1,000 bottles a year and some that produced in excess of 3 million. It was an education on the process and we learned so much.

Another nice advantage of visiting in October is that it is Harvest Season, or Crush. We observed the grapes being picked, sorted, crushed, put in vats, moved to barrels and put up to age. It was just amazing.

The people of our village were very kind, friendly, and helpful. The food and wine were even more amazing than Rome. Our last two weeks we were joined by Bob and Sylvie, Mat’s in-laws. They rented a flat down the street from us. We had a great 2 weeks drinking wine, finding new restaurants and wineries. It was fun t0 become known in the village and at a few local restaurants.

Bob, Sylvie, and one of our favorite waiters — Pietro

Our nightly hangout — 50' from the flat.
 
 When they were there, we drove to Portofino and spent the night stopping at Lucca on the return. We spent a day in Pisa which was also amazing.

Portofino has always been on our bucket list. It was absolutely amazingly beautiful but somehow spoiled for us as the people, wait staff, tourists were not friendly or helpful and very uppity. However, so glad we were able to visit.

Aperol Spritz — Portofino Harbor

We were very sad on October 31 when it was time to return. We certainly were not ready to return. We hope to return very soon.

We drove to Richmond for Thanksgiving for a wonderful week. Stephanie, Adam, and Jack were there and we were able to see Syd, Greg, Hannah, and Kate and be at their home for Thanksgiving, our wonderful hosts Jenny, Stuart, Ellie, and Finley, and catch up with Sue and Brandon and Barry and Carol. It was awesome being back in Richmond.

Thanksgiving Day with Lyons, Grandy’s.

A very cold hike on the James River with Grandy’s and Kramer’s.

Great visit with the Graber’s.

I’m been missing my Susie for too many years!

We flew to Cincinnati and spent a week before Christmas then continued to Seattle for Christmas. It was wonderful to get to see everyone over Christmas. We had fun in Cincinnati with the Drone we got Jack but didn’t have enough time to really learn to use it. The girls had a big Christmas with bikes.

Drone was a hit!

Christmas Eve Mass visiting the Baby.

New Bikes!

We returned to the boat, celebrated New Year’s Eve on the dock, then accompanied by dock mates, Matt and Cat, went to Tampa Bay for the Panthers-Bucs game. Sadly, the Panthers lost but it was a fun 80-degree day.

We spent the night at Hard Rock Cafe, had an amazing dinner and breakfast before returning to the boat.

August 30, 2016

We have had a wonderful summer travelling and enjoying our marina and new dock mates at Monroe Harbor. Our neighbor, Matt, has given us the keys to his truck as he works from the boat so we have been able to run errands and make some trips to visit family and friends.

Our friends, Lo and Bo, from Brandon, were spending the weekend at Mt. Dora which is about 1 hour from here. We enjoyed driving over, spending the day with them, checking out the antique market and cute town, and having a fun lunch.

We also visited Belinda and Jim in their condo at St. Pete Beach for a few nights and the went to Plant City for a night for a wonderful visit with cousin’s Karen, Elaine, Bruce and family.

Stephanie, Adam, and Jack were visiting Adam’s parents in The Villages, another hour drive, so visited for the day of Jac’s 13th birthday. It was fun to see their new home, go to lunch, and to celebrate the big birthday with all his grandparents.

We spend 2 weeks in Seattle and Oregon. We arrived in Seattle where Matt and Amy delivered a car and our two granddaughters, Alia and Kira, and we were on our way to Hood River, OR to visit family. We had a wonderful 5 days and I think Matt and Amy enjoyed the break.

My sister, Donna, had just returned from a year in the Peace Corp in Africa and Jenny and Reyman had moved back to Hood River. We had a wonderful time and got to stay in Dave and Barb’s new camper on their farm. The girls loved feeding the animals, gathering eggs, and playing on the farm.

They also enjoyed going to Barb’s mo’s orchard picking their own pears and apples.

We used the paddleboards, swam in the Columbia River, watched the kite boarders, visited the Fire Station with Uncle Dave, the Captain and totally wore out grandma and grandpa.

After being in Seattle for a few days, we all went to Mt. Rainer for the weekend and stayed at the Paradise Inn with a gorgeous view of the snow covered mountain peak. We could see the peak from our bed. The weather was wonderful and we had a great time.

Back in Seattle Cindy took the girls to their first movie in a theater, Finding Dory. The girls were great and loved the movie. We also took them to the splash park, shopped for school supplies, and stayed busy. Alia will be going to kindergarten and Kira to pre-school.

We have been busy since our return on August 25 getting ready to fulfill a huge item on our bucket list.

We leave tomorrow for a two-month adventure in Italy. We have dreamed of doing this since we were there 10 years ago and decided now was the time to go.

July 6

Our dinghy is in dire need of repairs and we found Gator, a highly recommended man to fix it. How fun dealing with Gator! Gator is in Coco Beach, about 1 hour from here.

Our wonderful dock mates, Matt and Cat, have a friend who recommended Gator and also owns a dinghy trailer and Matt has a truck with a hitch. Today, we had to turn the boat around to lower the dinghy since the crane only operates from the port side of the boat. Of course, that meant removing the steps, unhooking from dock side water, power, and dropping the lines. Fortunately, Matt was here to help and then catch the lines when we turned. We turned, dropped the dinghy, turned back around and got tied up. As Cindy went to plug the power back into the boat she noticed the plug was burnt. After further examination Curt discovered that it had in indeed shorted out. Cindy went downstairs for something and noticed a burning smell. The smell was coming from on top of the forward berth where the power plugs in. This is one of the scariest things about living on a boat, a fire. While we were in Ohio, a boat caught fire in this marina from a similar issue.

We are now in search for an electrician. The question now is did something happen when we unplugged or not? If not, could it have continued to burn and started a fire?

Of course, all this on the hottest day of the year. Hopefully, we can get it diagnosed and fixed very quickly. Curt has another cord plugged in now but it only runs the salon air and nothing else. Right now, that works.

We need to get this figured out, pick up the trailer, load the dinghy, and deliver it tomorrow morning.

We spent two weeks in Cincinnati visiting, getting all our yearly doctor exams, and attending swim meets. We were pleased we got to watch Jack swim several times and also watch his dive meet. Fortunately, we were able to witness his record in the 100 IM with his perfect and beautiful stokes and form. He was a very happy boy.

Adam and Heidi came to visit and we had fun with them, going pub crawling, and all going to the movies one afternoon.

We took 3 days driving to Ohio stopping in Columbia, SC and Huntington, WV were we got to visit with Curt’s boss and Curt’s replacement and enjoyed an awesome Italian meal and drinks at a superb wine bar.

We returned to Florida in one long day.

We had an awesome, fun day on the 4th of July. We are downtown Sanford where all-day festivities were happening. We could see all the crowded craziness from the boat. It was so much nicer than being in the middle of everything. We could even hear all the music groups from the boat.

Our dock had a great dock party with great food, jello shooters, and desserts. It was a wonderful day and night.

Our boat slip is front and center for the fireworks. They were right in front of the boat. It was interesting to watch the fire department hosing down the marina buildings prior to the fireworks. It was an absolutely beautiful display

We are so happy with the marina, the people, the town, and the great bars, restaurants, and services that are so nearby. We may be staying longer than we originally anticipated.

We are on the boat until August 12 when we fly to Seattle and a few days sometime in July to visit Jim and Belinda at their condo in St. Pete.

June 5

We took 5 days cruising down the St. John’s River and the further we proceeded, the scenery drastically improved. However, so did the bugs. We ended up cutting the cruise short after being inundated with bugs for 2 nights — thousands of bugs.

The first 2 nights we tied up to docks at different seafood restaurants – free dock if you dine. They both had a fun bar and good food.

We anchored outside Silver Glen Springs which is supposed to be beautiful with a lot of wildlife. We did not factor in it was Memorial Day Weekend and hundreds of boats were anchored in a relatively small area. We took the dinghy in to check it out because it is too shallow for the big boat. It was absolutely wild and crazy reminding us of those big, crazy holiday weekend rafts at the lake.

Fortunately, the marina was able to accommodate us 2 days early and we were glad to be here and away from the bugs.

We are very pleased with the marina, the town, and the folks around. We are downtown Sanford, FL which has several great restaurants, bars, shops, Saturday market, and most everything we need. There are several live-aboards on our dock that are very friendly, trying to help in anyway, offering us cars, rides, whatever we need. It is very convenient as we are just off I-4, 28 miles from Orlando.

We both hurt our shoulders several months ago picking up a mooring and have aggravated the injury by continuing picking up moorings, securing the boat to docks, and things we just cannot avoid. We decided it was time to get them checked.

Friday the Dockmaster gave us his car and we were able to see a doctor at the walk in clinic. He took x-rays and suggested we see an orthopedic doc which was no surprise. We were shocked when he told us they have a walk-in ortho clinic down the road from his office. We went, was seen, received a diagnosis and was on our way. It did take 5 hours that day but very glad we finally did it.

We both have an impingement on the right shoulder which is causing extreme pain in our right arm, elbow, and wrist. We received a cortisone shot and exercises. The shoulders felt better immediately and we hope they continue to improve.

We have been busy making our future plans. We are going to Cincinnati June 14 for a few weeks to catch up and visiting our doctors there, going to Seattle in mid-August to visit and spend a weekend on Mt. Rainer, and then we are going to Italy.

For the past 10 years since we visited Italy, we have dreamed of returning to visit many of the places we did not have time to explore. We have an apartment rented in Rome for the month of September and an apartment rented in a small Tuscan village for October. We are extremely excited and are having fun reading and making all the preparations for a 2-month trip.

We are happy Monroe Harbor Marina is so good and so many people to watch Classic Cyn in our absence.

May 26

As we continued up the coast of Florida heading to St. Augustine we encountered a series string of thunderstorms. Mr. Doppler (Curt) predicted we would not make St. Augustine and they were going to be severe. We had just passed Marineland Marine where we had stayed in the past as he was making the assessment. Cindy called Marineland, they had a slip, so we turned around heading back as fast as we could. We were tied up, electric hooked up, and helped another boater we were talking to on the radio get tied up before it hit. It was one of our better decisions and very happy we didn’t press on.

We arrived at St. Augustine for the weekend the following day and had a fantastic time as always. It is one of our favorite stops where we enjoy Harry’s Cajun food, Henley’s Pub, and Pizzalley’s pizza, wine, and entertainment on the porch. Cindy got a much needed haircut, we went to the great produce stand, ran into folks we meet in Hope Town, and just had a great weekend. We tried another English Pub that was fun but just didn’t stack up to Henley’s.

We arrived at The Marina at Ortega Landing on the Ortega River off the St. John’s River, south of Jacksonville to visit with old friends Conrad and Terri on Sunnyside. They have made this marina their home for the past year and we now know why. It is one of the nicest we have visited with beautiful docks, pool, hot tub, grilling areas, fire pits, gorgeous club house all within walking distance to a large shopping area with anything one may need. They have a car so we spent a few days doing errands.

We were sad to leave because, as usual, we had so much fun with them and enjoyed the marina so much. The people are the friendliest we have encountered at any marina. We leave today to head south down the St. John’s River to Sanford, FL.

May 17

We left Foxtown May 12 heading west to our staging anchorage at Mangrove Cay. The cay is away from any land mass except the small rock and mangrove island to give some protection from east and north winds. It was a flat calm day and night and we had a great sleep.

We talked to another boat on the way out that was crossing so we went over, meet them and planned our departure the next day. We left on Friday the 13th at 5 am for our crossing.

We have started rating our crossings from1–10. This one was a 10+ as opposed to our 3 going over. We had an amazing sunrise with calm, flat seas all day. The water colors and clarity were amazing even in 2,500’ with water temperature in the gulf stream at 88. Cindy wanted to take a swim but wasn’t sure Curt would wait. We arrived at Ft. Pierce at 5:45 pm and tied up to our friends dock next to Classic Cyn’s big sister, Betty B. We enjoyed visiting with Vince and Mary for the weekend.

We enjoyed walking to Archie’s for dinner, using their car for a few errands, joining them for the Saturday market and breakfast, watching the fish coming in from the tournament, then enjoying their neighbors catch for dinner.

Last night we anchored at Melbourne Beach.

May 12

We left Green Turtle Cay yesterday spending the last few days walking around town and trying one last place, the Gathering Tree, for Cracked Conch. It was high on the list of the best conch as well as a fascinating history at the location. The settlement of New Plymouth had up to 44 salvage boats beginning in the 1850’s due to the large reefs and many American and European ships were lost in the water around the island.

The Bahamian Government enacted laws to assure all the salvage boats were licensed; thus they really were not pirates. Since they were licensed and regulated, the goods had to be transported to Nassau for auction with the government receiving a portion of the proceeds.

The Gathering Tree is the place where the salvaged items were stored and organized for transport to Nassau. The salvagers saved many lives as well as made their living from the business.

We anchored at Foxtown, Little Abaco Cay, a gorgeous anchorage reminiscent of Maine with rocks lining the shore. As we were entering the anchorage, we observed a small boat over the reef. They stopped by on their way back to town with freshly caught lobster. We purchased 25 for $40. Caribbean lobster is much smaller than Maine lobster but one is more than enough for a meal. They told us how to make (and freeze) Cracked Lobster and it was delicious.

We wanted to get an early start to make our way to Mangrove Cay, a very small cay north of Grand Bahama to stage for our 100-mile crossing on Friday, May 13. We will be crossing with another trawler and heading to Ft. Pierce where we will tie up to our friend’s dock for a few days.

We were surprised at 6 am to wake up to lovely church bells playing Gloria Alleluia. Good grief! You just have to love the Bahamas and we will miss the people and this type of unexpected event. At least we wanted an early start.

May 8

Today we had two dinghies that went to the north side of the island into the Atlantic to snorkel the barrier reef, the third largest in the world. It was an awesome ride out over the reef and snorkeling then we went to Fidler Cay to snorkel and observe the Sea Biscuits. The beach is famous for the yearly Stranded Naked Party. Unfortunately, that event occurs in July.

After that we stopped by the Tranquil Turtle for a Tranquil Turtle and Conch Fritters. It was a great, calm day with little wind.

The weekend highlight at Green Turtle Cay was the Heritage Roots Festival with the Bahama Defense Force Band, Junkanoo, food, drinks, and other entertainment. It was held at the point in the Settlement overlooking the Sea of Abaco. We enjoyed attending Friday and Saturday but the highlight was the Saturday Junkanoo, a Bahamian Street Carnival with music, dance, and costumes. It was a Junior Junkanoo so the teenagers of the Settlement performed. It was fun, lively, energetic, and very entertaining.

Both days we stopped by the world famous Miss Emily’s Blue Bee Bar for one of her amazing Goombay Smash drinks. They were the best ever and Miss Emily is extremely delightful and charming.

Thursday, we hiked across the island to enjoy the beautiful North Beach on the Atlantic side.

May 4

Happy 40th Birthday, Matt.

May 3

We have been at White Sound, Green Turtle Cay since April 30 on a mooring. We are in between the Bluff House Marina and Green Turtle Club. We have met some great people at Happy Hours and are enjoying ourselves.

We visited The Club but have spent time at the Bluff House Ballyhoo Bar and their Beach Bar, Tranquil Turtle. It is beautiful, relaxing and we can enjoy the pool and the beach.

The town is small and quaint but friendly. We had cocktails at Pineapples and walked to the beautiful Gillum Bay Beach.

We are currently awaiting some high winds, rain, and thundershowers to move in the next few days.

The annual Heritage Roots Festival is this weekend so we are looking forward to a fun few days.

April 14

Sadly, after two weeks, we departed Hope Town with plans on spending next winter in the harbor. The last few days, we walked the island, met friends at Sip Sip a few times, and enjoyed the time.

Next stop was Great Guana Cay where we anchored in Fishers Bay off Grabbers Bar. The Cay is famous for Nippers Beach Bar and the Sunday Pig Roast. It is known to be very rowdy and fun. The setting on the bluff overlooking the Atlantic is beautiful. We had plans on staying at the island to enjoy the Sunday festivities.

On the first morning we found a paddle board and paddle floating past the boat heading for open water. After some effort, Curt rescued the board where we found a logo on it from Grabbers. Since we were going into town for a walk, we stopped by Grabbers to tell them we rescued their board and would enjoy one of their famous rum drinks for the effort. We assumed they would be glad and grateful.

The girl was extremely nasty and ask if we were trying to hustle her. We were shocked, amazed and left.

That afternoon we towed the board back in and told another person about it and were treated the same rude way with not even a thank you.

Since it was Friday afternoon and Happy Hour time we were going to have drinks and apps. After their attitude, we decided they were not getting our business so we walked up the hill to Nippers. Apparently the only time to go Nippers is on Sunday because it was also unfriendly, rude, $10 for a 6 oz. drink. The locals, staff, and clientele at the bar were the most unfriendly we have found. So, again, we decided not to leave any more money on this island.

We got back to the boat much earlier than anticipated deciding to pull anchor the next morning and leave the unhappy, sad Great Guana Cay. We will not return
 
 April 26

We are still enjoying Hope Town and are now members of the illustrious, somewhat dubious organization Sip Sip SOTS (a habitual tippler). The groups gather every Friday and sometimes Tuesday for the purpose of like-minded souls enjoying friendship and libations. We have certainly found a home.

We were sad to say goodbye to Rickshaw as they headed to Spanish Wells on Saturday.

Sunday Cindy attended Mass in the park in front of the playground. It was very interesting to sit in the outside overlooking the harbor and enjoy the beauty of this town. Curt comfortably waited for Cindy next door at Harbor’s Edge, different communions.

We are amazed at not only the friendlessness of the locals and boaters but the safeness of this island. We needed to have our propane tanks filled so started to inquire. The procedure is to put your name on the tank, leave the it at the dinghy dock by the grocery store, it will be filled then returned to the dock. There is no schedule as to when this may be done – it could be a week. We were somewhat doubtful about leaving our only tank especially since it was the nicest on the dock but decided we would try it out. All was well, the tank was filled, returned to that nicest on the dock but decided we would try it out. All was well, the tank was filled, returned to the dock on an honor system. Payment of $27 is made in the grocery store, a great bargain in Abaco.

April 20

We followed the candy-stripped lighthouse to the safe harbor of Hope Town on Elbow Cay on April 14, a wonderful stop where we happily took a mooring ball to wait out the next front passing through. The harbor has the charm of Cuttyhuck, the town the quaintness of Nantucket but with the gorgeous waters and temperatures of the Bahamas. Another relaxing feature is the bells of the church that regularly play and heard across the harbor. From the harbor we can see the lighthouse on one side, the colorful houses of town on the other, and listen to the pounding of the Atlantic, only 1000' from the boat on the other side of town.

The town was settled by Loyalist escaping the American Revolution and their descendants continue to make the village a great attraction with the charming architecture of colorful little cottages and friendly people.

The cay is lined with palm tree lined beaches, coral heads surrounding the island, colorful water, quaint narrow streets with bougainvillea growing everywhere, shops, bars, and almost everything one would need.

We have enjoyed walking around, shopping, having drinks and lunches. We attended a body painting exhibit by a local artist which was very fascinating.

We found Wine Down Sip Sip for $3 wines at Happy Hours, have visited several times, and enjoyed the lively interaction with locals.

Cindy has been looking for two watercolors for the stateroom for three years and finally found them here. The artist lives in one of the cottages where he sells his art. The prints are of the town, beach, and cottages. A very memorable find; very happy to have them, to have met the artist, and learn some island history.

We are renting our mooring from Hope Town Inn and Marina, a beautiful inn with two pools, restaurant, swim-up bar, games, and great people. This gives us access to the resort and pools.

The next island in the chain is Man-O-War, 4 miles from Hope Town. We took two dinghies and went exploring Man-O-War instead of moving the big boats. It was a lumpy dinghy ride as the Atlantic was roaring on the other side of the islands.

Man-O-War is known for superior boatbuilding for over two centuries and also a Loyalist colony. There legendary boatbuilding is still seen all over the Bahamas and the US. We had heard it was not to be missed, a very quaint settlement but we all found that is could not compare to Hope Town, plus, it is a dry island. We were pleasantly surprised when we went to Dock and Dine for lunch and were informed they were the only place on the island that sells beer and wine. Apparently, that is a controversial, interesting history.

We climbed the 1864 Elbow Reef Lighthouse, the most recognized landmark in Abaco and the last lighthouse of its kind in the world. The unique lighthouse operates totally without electricity and runs very smoothly. It works like a gigantic grandfather clock that the keeper must wind every two hours. The view of the Sea of Abaco, the Atlantic Ocean, and Hope Town were amazing.

We rented a golf cart for the day with Jim and Belinda and enjoyed exploring the entire Elbow Cay. We visited Tahiti Beach, Sea Spray Marina again, checked out beautiful homes, then enjoyed drinks on the veranda of the beautiful Abaco Inn overlooking a pool and the turbulent Atlantic. Our next stop was On Da Beach Bar & Grill also on the Atlantic. Sadly it was closed on Monday but we enjoyed the view and a walk on the beach.

We stopped at a local take out grill for delicious burgers on homemade rolls. What a find.

April 12

We headed out from Pete’s Pub to our next stop, only 13 miles, to Tahiti Beach where we met Rickshaw. It is aptly named and we enjoyed 2 days enjoying the beautiful beach. Tahiti is located on the south end of Elbow Cay. We explored by dinghy and visited Sea Spray Resort.

We found Both Island Bounds at Tahiti and an LRC like ours we had meet before in NC, Escapade, when we arrived. It was great to visit with Mike and Suzanne on Escapade and we all went by dinghy to the famous Cracker P’s for cocktails on Lubbers Quarters. Unfortunately, it was closed on Tuesday but we were able to walk next door Lubbers Landing for some great rum punches.

We had hoped to snorkel at Sandy Cay, part of the Land and Sea Park, located between Little Harbor and Tahiti but the seas were too rough on the day we cruised by the cay. However, we were able to go a few days later with an 8-mile dinghy ride with Jim and Belinda.

It was incredible snorkeling and we are so glad we were able to have that opportunity to snorkel this amazing reef. We enjoyed some of the most abundant, gorgeous coral we have ever seen.

April 10

On April 8 a weather window appeared so we headed out with 2 sailboats and another trawler, losing sight of each other due to varying speeds but ending up at the quintessential beach bar, Pete’s Pub and Gallery, Little Harbor, Abaco. No anchoring is permitted in the harbor but fortunately we were able to secure a mooring. The moorings are so close we are able to chat with our neighbors. The channel coming into the harbor is very shallow so we were kind enough to dredge it for the next folks arriving. It was all sand so no harm. However, we will be leaving at high tide.

The 56-mile trip over was in open water in the Atlantic so we experienced 6' waves but they were 10 seconds apart. So we rode the waves up and back down which is much better than hammering into them. It wasn’t a bad ride

The bar is laid-back, open air, thatched roof with a sand floor. The signature drink, a Blaster, very delicious but one is enough!
The history is quite interesting. In 1952, an artist and professor at Smith College decided to get away from it all, bought an old sailboat and sailed to the Bahamas searching for a spot for a perfect home. Cindy read his book and it is amazing what they were able to accomplish with the trials and tribulations along the way. They had several children in tow, the youngest Pete, only two. Pete and his family still run the business and live here.

Pete’s father, a bronze sculptor, had a foundry on sight and has become famous around the world. They foundry is still running with his descendants and is very interesting producing fine sculptors still.

We explored the caves that served as the family home for several years until a house was built. We also hiked over to the hill to the Atlantic and explored the ruins of a lighthouse built in 1850.

Sunday is Souse Day, a Bahamian dish with chicken, veggies, spices, etc. and Bloody Mary’s so we are looking forward to that experience.

We have met some great people and have enjoyed exploring with them, sharing drinks, and cocktails on different boats. We will be here until Tuesday because of the winds and look forward to meeting Jim and Belinda on Rickshaw at Tahiti Beach on Elbow Cay.

We have enjoyed the numerous turtles swimming around the boat but the best was the dozen or so dolphins that visited. It is apparently mating season so the entire harbor enjoyed the show as they were banging against the boats, making noises, flopping around, and jumping out of the water. What an amazing experience to witness.

April 6

We left Palm Cay in Nassau on April 4 heading to Spanish Wells on Eleuthera, one of our favorite places. We had a squall mid-way and rough going for a while. We decided to anchor 5 miles from Spanish Wells at Royal Island, a harbor of refuge; the protection from the upcoming high winds.

Royal Island has ruins of a former elegant private estate with orange groves built in the 50's and is another example of halted construction littering the island in a failed attempt to change the island into a resort with villas, golf course, and marina.

It is a large area and many other boats have the same idea. All the boats are spread out nicely and we all held well last night in winds in excess of 25 knots, gusting higher. Today, is a blustery, overcast day that is too windy to go out exploring in the dinghy.

Yesterday, we went to Spanish Wells and walked around then stopped by The Sandbar Bar on the way back. It is a fun little tiki bar on the beach mid-way between town and our anchorage.

As soon as the front passes we are off to The Abacos. However, another one will be following this one in 5–6 days. So, we sit and wait.

April 3

We had an amazing eight days Grandy vacation with the weather cooperating. We were able to show them the highlights of the Exumas much to their delight.

They arrived early in the day to Palm Cay Marina (our favorite marina) so we relaxed at the pool, beach, and tiki hut. We left the next morning and made it to Shroud Cay, part of the Exumas Land and Sea Park.

The long, amazing, gorgeous dinghy ride up a mangrove river from the Exuma Sound to the Atlantic where it opens up to a spectacular beach for awesome. We spent several hours enjoying the beach and hiking up to Driftwood Camp to view both the Atlantic, the river, and the Sound. In the 60’s a sailor sailed up the river, anchored his boat, built a camp and lived there many years until the DEA, FBI and others moved in to monitor and ultimately apprehended Carlos Lehder, the kingpin of the Columbian drug cartel on his neighboring island, Norman’s Cay. He still resides in a USA prison.

Our next stop was the long anticipated one of Big Majors to swim with the pigs. They have a great time and visited them several times the next few days. It is amazing to watch these swimming pigs, feed them, and just hang around on the beach with them. It is truly an amazing and fun place. Stephanie particularly loved the babies and was able to hold them.

We took the dinghy to Staniel Cay to have drinks at the Yacht Club and observe the nurse sharks and rays. Then another highlight for them, snorkeling the Thunderball (007 filmed there) Grotto. Jack loved swimming in and out of the cave from the underwater entrance. It is truly spectacular and a highlight for us from all our cruising.

Sadly, we had to move alone to pack as much as we could into the week. We went to Cambridge Cay, part of the park to visit the lovely beaches, walk over the small sandy path to the Atlantic, snorkel a plane, and then the amazing area called the Aquarium. It is aptly named and another amazing experience. Then awhile scoping out Johnny Depp’s place but he didn’t seem to be around.

Jack and Adam loved playing with the hookah, checking out the bottom of the boat and running gear, and jumping off the top desk into the beautiful, crystal clear water until the sharks showed up. We had 3 bullsharks (one of the meanest and most indiscriminate) circling the boat for several hours as a few rays would swim by. It was amazing show to watch.

The next day was Hawksbill Cay, still in the park where we had to take the dinghy through very shallow water, sometimes walking the dinghy but arriving at a fabulous, private area on the Atlantic. Sadly, we couldn’t stay long because we were not interested in getting stranded there.

The last stop was Highbourne Cay where we again visited an amazing beach and also the endangered iguanas on Allen’s Cay. When you arrive by dinghy, there are no iguanas in sight but as soon as you start walking around, they appear looking for food. We DO NOT feed them as others do because they are endangered and are not healthy because people give them hot dogs and other people food. Recent scientific studies show they have hypertension, high cholesterol, and heart problems. The iguanas on the other side of the island are healthy. I just cannot understand why people do this is these harmless creatures. We had as good as view of them as you do when you feed them.

As you walk down the beach, you feel like the pied piper; you turn around you see dozens following you. They can be aggressive but if you just walk around, they are fine. Probably only aggressive because they expect to be fed.

We played bocce-ball almost every day on the beaches and now they cannot image playing it anywhere else because it is so awesome on these gorgeous, private beaches.

The last day, we had to return to Palm Cay but arrived early enough to enjoy the pool and beach.

Sadly, the next day they had to leave around noon for their return flights but we had a spectacular week.

March 21

46 years ago today, we were married on a beautiful day in northern Ohio. By the time the reception was over in the early morning hours, we had a full blown blizzard beginning. We have stories and memories about a long night leaving and arriving at our destination.

We had a wonderful Bahamian dinner downtown Nassau with conch chowder, coconut conch, Caesar salad, peas (beans) and rice, cheesecake with guava sauce, and lots of champagne for Cindy and wine for Curt.

March 19, 20

Once again, the weather was not as predicted so we hammered into 4–5 seas coming every second for 40 miles. It was starting to calm nearing Nassau so we dropped the anchor off Rose Island Beach concerned with the huge rollers from the north rolling in. We were rocking and rolling but holding good. A good sized squall blew in at 5 am with heavy rains (usually doesn’t happen in the Bahamas but it saved us fresh water the next day by rinsing the salt off) and high shifting winds. We held fine as it moved on after 1 ½ hours.

We had received the word of no availability at our favorite Bahamian Marina, Palm Cay. We were sick for many reasons; easy for Grandy’s to arrive, loaner car to go to store, pool, and restaurant to celebrate upcoming anniversary. We started searching for alternatives which would have to be downtown Nassau where we would prefer not to be. Just as we were ready to drop the anchor, we received a call from Palm Cay that they could accommodate us but with no power. We were good with that and extremely relieved.

We arrived at 10:30 am the next morning as the weather calmed, we were able to get into our slip easily, and they had a slip for us with power. Life is good. The only downside is we are across the harbor from the office, cafe, laundry, showers, pool, bar so we put the dinghy down to come and go. It works fine.

So we anxiously await the arrival of the Grandy’s early afternoon Thursday.

March 18

Anchored at the amazing White Cay in the Berrys. The only thing that separated us from Africa was a small cay of sand and limestone. It had a few low areas where we could watch the huge Atlantic breakers crashing on the rocks. That sound is so relaxing but also frightening when on anchor. The moon was almost full as it reflected off the white sand bottom that lite the water as if a light was illuminating the sea. A very special experience.

Departed Lucaya heading to Nassau to await the Grandy’s arrival on the 24th.

We had a gorgeous, calm, peaceful 57-mile cruise to Great Stirrup Cay in the Berry Islands. Curt caught a nice, small Maui-Maui that we had for dinner. It was wonderful enjoying fish that fresh.

We anchored between Great Stirrup and Little Stirrup Cays, both cruise ships private islands. Great Stirrup is owned by Norwegian Lines and Little Stirrup by Royal Caribbean. Royal Caribbean decided to rename it to Coco Cay for marketing purposes.

The islands look like Disneyland with highly manicured beaches, thousands of chairs, bars, “straw market”, water toys, etc. There were no ships in when we arrived because it was late in the day and they had departed; thus a very peaceful, beautiful night.

The next morning when we walked upstairs, a giant RC ship sat a quarter of a mile from us. As we drank our coffee we enjoyed watching the circus of the launches hauling all the people to the island.

March 14

After our friends on the two trawlers returned yesterday, we decided to take our bikes to Banana Bay for drinks and lunch. It was a beautiful day, gorgeous beach, and great 12-mile bike ride.

The trawlers left again today and did not return so they are on their way to the Abacos. It has been a very quiet day around the marina because several other boats enjoyed the good weather window.

March 13

We are enjoying our time in Port Lucaya; great people, relaxing, nice spot.

We were sad to see Reis and Susan (See Guest Page) leave but had a great time for 5 days.

We went to the Wednesday Fish Fry on the beach, had a huge dock dinner with great food and fresh Grouper, drove to Freeport and back to Port Lucaya for dinner with our friends in their rental, and lots of cocktails on the dock.

Our friends in the other two trawlers left this morning for the Abaco’s and returned 45 minutes later. The seas were not cooperating so they will try again tomorrow.

March 5

We arrived at Grand Bahamas Yacht Club (GBYC) Wednesday afternoon after a beautiful, calm 63-mile cruise. As we awaited our slip assignment, two other trawlers pulled in and we were all docked on the same pier.

One couple is from New Brunswick, Canada, Michelle and Ian, and Jan and Pete from Indiana. We have had fun with them the past few days’ dinghy riding through the canal system, going to Jazz night at the pool bar, and having cocktails on Classic Cyn last night.

A free launch from the marina runs across the inlet to Port Lucaya; a fun area with a straw market, island-style buildings, bars, Casino, and restaurants.

We have had an extraordinary treat twice so far in the canal behind the boat. The Underwater Explorers Society (UNEXSO) of Grand Bahamas have a Dolphin Experience not far from the boat with 14 Atlantic Bottle Nose Dolphins.

They perform in the canal behind our boat as paying customers watch from the tour boat. We were surprised the first day as we watched 2 huge dolphins leaping out of the water, twisting, talking, and then following the small boat. We later learned about this organization and that the dolphins are free to leave but choose to stay because they are happy and so well fed. They follow the boat out of the pen to get fresh heron, perform, then follow the boat back to the pens. It is just remarkable to see wild dolphins putting on a show. How lucky are we to have this happen in our backyard? It is just amazing.

When Cindy swam with the dolphins a few years ago in the BVI, she learned that they are actually healthier, life longer, and happier when in captivity. It seems hard to believe but the ones she swam with were over 40 years old. They are not under stress, get plenty to eat, have medical attention and lots of love.

We look forward to these shows to continue.

The other day, we decided to ride the bus around the island to check it out. As we were waiting for the bus, we were shocked when a 9 passenger van stopped labeled City general direction they are travelling then take you where you want to go. What an unusual way to have a bus system but it seems to work and is only $1.25. We were amusing to everyone on the bus because of our reaction and because we didn’t know where to tell the driver we were Bus. They put signs in the front window to indicate the going. Always an adventure and a learning experience.

March 1

The crossing was absolutely not as expected or predicted. We were apparently about 6–7 hours early. After 2 hours, we decided we could not do that for 14 more hours so we diverted to Bimini. The total trip was 7 hours which was enough. We anchored 800’ off the shore of Bimini in gorgeous clear water with a white sand bottom. The big orange moon just popped up as we were coming in at midnight and the seas were starting to calm down. It was a little rocky but all was well.

In the morning, we called Brown’s Marina where we stayed last year, and they had room. We were happy to be tied to a dock.

After clearing customs, we went to breakfast enjoying a breakfast sandwich on Bimini Bread with a few Kaliks apiece. We were beginning to relax and getting on island time.

Our good friends from York River Yacht Haven, Don and LaVonne, arrived about 3 hours later. It was so great spending the day with them and catching up.

A steady parade of boats started arriving in the harbor about 2 pm so we knew they were coming from the states and the weather had calmed.

We rented a golf cart today with Don and LaVonne, toured the island, visited the Casino, and had lunch at a local establishment, My 3 Daughters. We had to order the Cracked Conch which never disappoints. My 3 Daughters does not sell beer so we walked down the street, purchased some, and brought them back to the restaurant. Nothing is a problem here.

We stopped by the phone company because we were having a hard time getting our data plan to register. In a few minutes, they had us fixed up and again, no problem.

We are both leaving at first light tomorrow; us for Port Lucaya, them for Staniel Cay.

February 28

We are preparing to leave tonight at 5 pm for our 100 mile crossing to Port Lucaya, Grand Bahamas. The weather window is very small but we are going to try it since the next window is Thursday. We should arrive in the morning. We are hoping for that beautiful orange moon that showed by last night do the same tonight.

February 27

On Thursday in Key Largo, we were able to get our thermostat for the water heater and the vacuum. The hardware store was only .03 of a mile from the dinghy dock but K-Mart for the vacuum was over a mile making it awkward carrying it back. We got back to the boat to find the thermostat was the wrong one and the store would close before we could get there. Disappointing, no hot shower again.

Early Friday morning, we returned, purchased the correct one, Curt installed it, and we had hot water. We decided to get a little closer to Miami so travelled 8 miles and anchored in Barnes Sound, close to Homestead.

Today, we are going to Biscayne Bay, Crandon Park Marina, for diesel and gas for the dinghy. We topped off the fuel tanks with 285 gallons of diesel but could not get our dinghy gasoline because it had ethanol in it. The dinghy motor does not like ethanol so we would rather pay the increased gas prices in the Bahamas rather than to have the motor die.

We anchored Outside No Name Harbor to stage for the crossing. The night was eventful because of all the other boats anchored, all sailboats which anchor differently that trawlers.

We wish we could educate many sailing vessels that you just cannot anchor on top of a 70,000-pound trawler with over 100' of chain out, put out a small amount of anchor line and call it a day. We are like a sail at anchor especially with the winds, tides, and currents. So, as we swung around at midnight, we were dangerously close to our inconsiderate neighbor. He, of course, was not moving so we did. We moved away from the other boats but still not happy with our position. As Cindy was pulling up the anchor she found a surprise. It was an old wooden crab pot, still attached to other pots in a line that were all submerged. We were finally able to dislodge it from the anchor, moved, re-set the anchor, and finally got some sleep (not great rest after all that, however).

February 25

Since the winds are still up, we had a slow ride up to Tarpon Bay in Key Largo. The N winds blow the water out of the already shallow channel. As soon as we know the anchor is holding good we will get the dinghy down so we can go to the hardware store to get our thermostat and vacuum. Hot water again will be wonderful.

February 24

Anchored in Islamorada with N-NW winds in excess of 25 knots. Since there is no protection on the inside of the Keys from N/NW winds, we had a long night swinging back and forth on the anchor.

February 23

Yesterday, Cindy decided to do an overdue boat cleaning as we were running. With only the Pilothouse remaining, the motor on the vacuum decided to burn up. The smoke detector sounded as Curt was running to the engine room to find everything was okay. As we turned the vacuum back on, it died so we knew what that smell had been.

At 9 pm as Cindy was doing dishes, the water stopped. Curt went downstairs to the engine room and replaced the water pump; still no water. As we investigated, we found a broken pipe at the water tank, not sure how much water we lost. We started the generator to heat some water. When it didn’t heat up, Curt was back downstairs checking things out. The water heater is under the steps in a very small closet taking up the entire space. He decided the thermostat probably was damaged or if he got lucky, it just needed reset.

As we anchored tonight, he tore everything out of the closet to reset the heater which did not work. So, it confirms that the thermostat needs replacing. No hot water for a few days.

Since we are on the way to the Bahamas, we hadn’t planned on stopping at a marina. We now have plans for a familiar anchorage in Key Largo tomorrow so we can put the dinghy down and go to Ace Hardware to replace the thermostat and vacuum.

It just never stops.

The winds and waves picked up today so we diverted to Little Shark River to anchor instead of proceeding to the unprotected Cape Sable. This area is part of the Everglades National Park. It is somewhat eerie as the tall mangrove trees line the narrow river and various wildlife sounds, some unrecognizable. We heard a gator, many birds, owls, saw a stingray jump out of the water a few times. We were overtaken by no-see-ums and mosquitos.

After sleeping about an hour Cindy awoke to some strange sounds so got up to investigate. She checked gauges, walked around the decks while getting devoured by mosquitos and could not figure out the strange sound. Still being concerned, she woke Curt and he was baffled as well. It sounded like a mechanical sound but somehow sounded like an animal. Finally, he thought the strong current may have been making the props spin. After taking the transmissions out of natural, the sound disappeared. Basically, we weren’t convinced that was the solutions but it stopped. At least when we had the spawning tarpons making grunts under the boat Rickshaw was with us and heard the same thing.

We are far enough south to miss a huge storm coming across the Gulf from Texas, hitting, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Florida panhandle, down to Tampa. It is bringing tornadic and gale force winds.

February 22

We are spending the night anchored off Big Marco Pass Inlet, Marco Island, at Outside Bend.

February 21

After a record 78 days in a marina, we left Treasure Island at 7 am, travelled 76 miles, and anchored off Cayo Costa State Park. We had a gorgeous day; the Gulf just doesn’t get any better. It was flat, clear water, good visibility which made a great day for a long run.

We decided yesterday at 1 pm that since the weather looked good for several days, we would leave Treasure Island today. We rushed around doing laundry, a last minute run to grocery store, ATM, boat wash, filled water tanks, and all the other last minute details.

Stan and Karen came over for dinner and we had a great night visiting and saying farewell, for now.

We had a wonderful visit in Seattle with the Matt, Amy, Alia, and Kira. We travelled to Mazama, WA which is in the Cascade Mountains about 30 miles from Canada. We stayed in a really cool log cabin with very few homes around. It was beautiful with 5' of snow. The girls had a great time seeing and playing in the snow. We built a snow girl, snow bunny, and snow dog, had snow ball fights, and sledded. Matt and Amy took the girls cross country skiing (using a cart that seats both girls with skis and attaches to Matt’s waist) and we all had a great day snowshoeing (Matt and Amy alternating pulling the cart). The weather was in the 30's so we didn’t freeze to death.

We had fun playing games, cards, and celebrating Kira’s 3rd birthday.

Matt is playing soccer on an adult league and really enjoying it. The first night there, we took the girls to watch his game and the last night Curt went to watch. It was deja vu for us watching him play. It was a great trip and as usual, we were very sad to leave.

February 8, 2016
 It has been a very long time since we have posted on our site. Shortly after our last post in December, our very old Laptop died. The painful task of deciding, researching what we wanted, needed, and could afford began. It was a frustrating job we think we figured out. We purchased the new one in Cincinnati and have spent the better part of January setting it up, dealing with the aggravation of learning Windows 10, losing 3,000 songs from iTunes that hadn’t been purchased, and many other issues. Fortunately, the computer professional was able to retrieve our data from the old one so we found our songs, documents, and all the things we were stressed about losing.

We had a wonderful time in Marjorie Park in downtown Tampa visiting with our friends Dean, Carol, Bo, and Lou and enjoying a night with Curt’s cousin Bruce and Elaine. They joined us on the boat to watch the lighted Christmas Parade that went right behind our boat. It was a cold but lovely evening and we enjoyed their visit to the boat.

We flew to Cincinnati on December 20 and had a wonderful two weeks. Curt and Adam spent eight days updating Jack’s room. It now has Carolina blue and gray walls with a strip of Clemson orange and Fatheads of a life-size Cam Newton and a Tiger Paw. They built industrial type shelving with a desk and added a shelve across one wall that holds his trophies, team pictures with a rod under the shelving that holds his hundreds of swim metals. It was a huge project but turned out great. He is very happy to have a new, grown up room.

Christmas was wonderful with very mild weather; Christmas day was 70 so we had to turn on the AC and open windows to build a fire. Not to worry, however, the day before we left, there was a dusting of snow and it was 16 degrees.

Stephanie and Adams friends from Charlotte, Adam and Heidi, came for New Years and we had Lou Malnatis deep dish Chicago pizza shipped to us. What a wonderful treat.

The next day they went downtown for two nights for a little get away, visited the many brew pubs and bars, and had a great few days.

We enjoyed our time with Jack by taking him to the Cincinnati Museum to Nathan Sawaya’s the Art of the Brick exhibition. All the art is made using only Legos. It was absolutely amazing and we all thoroughly enjoyed his awe-inspiring creations. We also went to Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip movie and lunch at Potbellies. We had fun taking Jack to his basketball game and watching him score.

Upon our return to Tampa, we moved the boat 28 miles to the Gulf to The Club at Treasure Island. It is a top-notch Yacht & Tennis Club with a heated pool where they construct a huge TV screen for football game and movie nights, fire pits, Tiki Bar, restaurant, bar, fitness center, activities, card groups, great entertainment, and fantastic food.

Our friends Jim and Belinda on Rickshaw and Stan and Karen on Masterplan are both here on their boats and we are all enjoying our time here.

One of the highlights here are Friday nights, an all-you-can-eat Seafood Buffet that includes stone crabs, oysters on the half shell, scallops, smoked salmon, various types of fish, cooked oysters, shrimp, a prime rib, yummy desserts, etc. If that is not awesome, they have top rate bands playing every Friday with live music several times a week. Everyone is very friendly and we look forward to returning another time.

It is convenient as we are ¾ mile from the beaches on the Gulf, restaurants, bars, grocery store, and anything else one could want.

Since we have been here my sister Beth, visiting Dunedin from North Carolina, came to visit. She is traveling in her new 5th wheel camper that was a toy garage included in the back. She is able to carry 2 Harley’s and her doggie camper. The doggie camper is pulled by her bike so her 2 darling Shelties can go with her.

The following week, we went to visit her in Dunedin. We had a great visit, went to lunch, and shopped. Curt was tired of shopping so we sent him to the bar.

Curt’s cousin, Karen came to visit and Bruce and Elaine returned for an afternoon visit. It was so awesome to visit with the family while we are in the area.

We are thankful to our friends Dean and Carol who have let us use one of their cars during our stay. It has made it so nice to be able to do things away from the boat.

We spent a day visiting Longboat Key, St. Armand’s Circle, and Siesta Key. Siesta Key is rated as one of the top beaches in the world and we agree. It’s huge white, powdery sand makes it absolutely stunning.

We are only about 6 miles from downtown St. Petersburg so we have visited there several times. They have an amazing Saturday Market and many great bars and restaurants.

We had a fun day at the annual Gasparillo Pirate Invasion. The parade is the third largest in the US behind Macy’s Day and Mardi Gras with over a quarter of a million people attending. Thousands of boats come up Tampa Bay to the Hillsbough River, cram into the downtown harbor and descend upon the city. The many pirate ships with drunken pirates kidnap the major and steal the Key to the City. It is fun and very crazy.

Dean and Carol live on the river so we were able to enjoy the fun from afar while sitting on their porch or under their tent in the front yard observing the boaters threw thousands of beads to the onlookers. Curt was taken aback when someone in a boat loaded a t-shirt gun with beads and a t-shirt. Instead of firing it straight up into the air, he fired it straight landing in Curt’s face; his glasses went flying, the lenses came out, the frames were bent, his face was cut, bruised, swollen, and he was dazed for a few minutes. I am sure the pirate had no idea what he had just done and we wonder how many other people he took out that day.

Our Hatteras LRC Rendezvous was held the weekend of February 5 at St. Petersburg Yacht Club, downtown St. Pete. We had a wonderful weekend visiting with old friends and meeting new ones. The weekend concluded with a dinner at the Club and a Super Bowl Party which certainly did not turn out as we expected. It was a very disappointing end to an amazing year. Go Panthers!

Matt and Amy were able to purchase tickets and attend the Super bowl. They participated in the Super bowl village activities, where Pharrell entertained, and had awesome seats for the big game. A very big weekend for them.

We have been provisioning, are loaded down, and ready to head out to the Bahamas.

We fly to Seattle tomorrow, returning on the 18th. Weather permitting, we will leave around February 20 and start making our way to the east coast. Our hopes are for favorable weather and a crossing by the end of the month.
 
 
 
 2015 Fall/Winter

Southbound to Key West and Fantasy Fest

December 9

We arrived at Marjorie Park Marina on Davis Island in Tampa on Sunday. Our friends Bo and Lou picked us up and took us to their house for a wonderful afternoon and evening. It was great catching up and watching the Panthers remain undefeated even though it was a nail bitter.

Our friends Dean and Carol, who live on Davis Island, are skiing in Colorado and have given us access to their car which was great to go to the store and get some needed supplies.

We visited the Harry Plant Museum yesterday which was formerly the Tampa Hotel. Plant built his empire with railroads, steamships and hotels and the landmark is referred to as Florida’s first “Magic Kingdom.” It is now part of The University of Tampa situated on the Hillsboro River across from downtown. The 1891 building is amazing with it artifacts collected by the Plants in Europe and the Orient and the stunning architecture.

A Victoria Christmas Stroll is currently on display with Christmas trees from a few inches to more than 14 feet, garland, vintage toys, ornaments and other period decorations and artifacts.

The hotel cost $3 million to built, is 511 rooms and 5 stories with ornate Victoria gingerbread topped by Moorish minarets, domes, and cupolas. A keyhole pattern is carried out throughout from the windows, trim, and other designs.

December 2

Today we left a beautiful anchorage near Cape Coral, traveling up the Gulf Coast, and will anchor off Cayo Casa State Park.

We had a wonderful week in Ft. Myers. It was a nice treat to be off the boat staying with Helen and Dave. We enjoyed a great Thanksgiving, shopping, going out with their friends, and relaxing. Cindy loved decorating the Barrington’s tree again this year.

We also enjoyed going to Cindy’s cousin Debbie and Myron’s house and catching up. Myron is recuperating from his heart surgery in Ohio last month and very happy to be back in Florida.

Their grandson, Thomas and his girl friend Mariah, have moved from Ohio, have found jobs, and will be making their home in Ft. Myers.

We left downtown Ft. Myers yesterday with Debbie, Myron, Thomas, and Mariah and cruised 12 miles to Cape Coral. They had taken a car there so we could drop them off. We had a fun day with a slow cruise and Painkillers.

November 24

We are leaving Ft. Myers Beach today enroot to downtown Ft. Myers, Ft. Myers City Yacht Basin where we will spend a week. By water, it is 19 miles up the river. We are excited to visit with Dave and Helen and Debbie and Myron.

The day we arrived in Ft. Myers Beach was one of those days…….

First, as we were leaving Marco Island we decided it was prudent to stay inside in the ICW as long as possible because of the high winds and seas in the Gulf. That was our first mistake for the day. The ICW was extremely shallow as we plowed our way through about 100 yards of muck. We need 4 1/2' of water for our boat and the depth was down to 3 1/2" with the tide going out. We knew if we were stopped or if we stopped it would not be a good thing. We were very relieved when we finally got out into the Gulf. To add insult to injury, the Gulf was calm contrary to our many weather sources. No damage done.

We were having difficulty picking up our mooring in Ft. Myers Beach because the current was rushing and now the winds decided to increase. Cindy had the pickup line but we lost the huge mooring ball attached to that line. We finally discovered that somehow, we certainly cannot figure out how, the ball was under the boat.

We were very fearful that we wrapped the line, or worse, the chain the mooring is attached to but the boat was out of gear so we were hoping no damage done. Curt went in (his turn) to try to figure out what was happening. The water was brown with no visibility, the current screaming, and he was getting cut up with barnacles.

At that point we called Boat US Tow since we are Gold Members. They were not able to get to us for 1 1/2 hours so we sat there hoping we were not doing damage and embarrassed since we were pointing opposite all the other boats in the harbor.

When they arrived, he advised us that he is a certified diver but was doubtful he would get into this water because of the current but mainly because the harbor was full of hungry bull sharks! Now, Cindy has swum with the alligators and Curt with the bull sharks.

The tow boat tied up to us moved us forward a few feet and the ball popped out. Seems rather simple. We are still trying to get our brains around how this happened exactly and why we could not dislodge it.

In the end, we had a stressful day but no damage done except to our pride. Running aground and running over a mooring is just not cool.

We proceeded to spend a week of relaxation on the mooring trying to recuperate from Key West. We went to shore several times, met Dave and Helen at Nervous Nellies for dinner, and watched the Panthers vs. the Redskins to become 10–0.

We moved last night to the fuel dock, took on 582 gallons of diesel, and stayed at the fuel dock for the night.
 
 November 16

Ft. Myers Beach

Sadly, we had to leave Key West several days early because of approaching weather. If we had not left on the 13th, we would not have made Ft. Myers for Thanksgiving.

We anchored the first night at Cape Sable, the southwest tip for FL, on to outside of Marco Island for 2 nights (because of weather on the Gulf), then a small weather window into Ft. Myers Beach. We will stay on a mooring here until next week then move 19 miles up the Caloosahatchee River to Ft. Myers Municipal Marina. We are excited to visit with Dave and Helen and Myron and Debbie.

Before we left Key West, we had to scramble to get things ready to go earlier than planned. We were able to get the new dinghy winch installed and working, the diver to clean the bottom after sitting for a month, find a place to store the newly purchased bikes, do laundry, and go to the grocery store.

Completing all the chores, we were able to attend the very special, memorable, heartwarming Key West Veteran’s Day Parade, unveiling of the Vietnam Memorial, and a great party in the park. Key West always ends up with a great party no matter what the occasion may be.

The Vietnam Memorial is a living tribute to those who came home as well as a monument of those who did not. It was very impressive; similar but smaller than the DC memorial. It is amazing what Key Westers can accomplish. The survivors in attendance (over 50) were given special accolades when presented on the stage.

The high school band performed, free food was available, followed by 3 music groups; the last being our favorite, Howard Livingston and the Mile Marker 24 Band.

It was quite an evening which, once again, made us realize that West Key and her people are our soul mates. It is an incredible group of people that truly believe in One Human Family, all people are created equal members to unit all people and guarantee everyones equal rights, with dignity and respect. It is such a comfortable environment with the majority of people believing and living as One Family.

Each year we return and as we make more new friends on this fantastic island in paradise, we know we will return.

The Super Boat World Championship was being held with 40 competitors, the boats purchase price between $2 and $6 million, not to mention the tanker of fuel each boat brought, huge crews, support teams, other toys like custom motorcycles, ATV’s, campers, cars, trucks, 18 wheelers converted to Crew Quarters, etc.

The last day, we were able to visit the Race Village to see the boats being put in and out of the water via cranes, on their trailers being worked on, and practicing in the water.

The entire event was amazing and shocking with the amount of money that was being spent as well as the boats traveling 140 mph around the Bight.

What locals calls the “Miami want-a-bees” arrived in large cigarette boats that took over every marina, bar, and restaurant. Young people with way too much money.

November 10

We were very fortunate to obtain tickets for the MTOM, giving us access to four days of parties, music, and fun at the Casa Marina Resort. As an added bonus, Jimmy Buffett played Thursday evening. It was absolutely amazing. The attendance was limited with only 2,800 people.

We were able to take chairs, food, coolers and sat on the beach about 100 yards from the stage. The tide was coming in so we had water over our ankles, nice touch to keep us cool. He played for 2 hours as we sat in such a beautiful venue under the palms trees with twinkle lights, a hot, gorgeous night, great people, and our favorite performer. We enjoyed the Southern Drawl Band waiting for Jimmy and the Coral Reefers to perform.

This is another thing off our bucket list was seeing Buffett in his old stomping grounds.

We were fortunate to have one of the VA groups, David Snead, Bart Parrot, and Dwayne Terrier, play on the boat. We had boaters, Parrotheads from VA, FL, and Key West on the boat to enjoy the party. It was a fun evening.

Sadly in the mist of all the events a sailboat at our marina sank in the slip. Sometime in the night the galley sink drain broke, no one was on board, the owner in Maine, and it went down. We watched as they struggled to raise her, were finally successful, and then towed her to a close marina to be hauled. It was a totally loss.

We have become friends with a guy, Clay and his wife Porsche who enjoy “dressing up”. Clay likes to dress like a woman and becomes Gina Maseratti, Key West’s High Heeled Pink Piano Playin Queen. They are a riot and play at the marina at the Shrimp Road Grill and other places around town.

We went to the Smokin Tuna to see Thom Shepherd (Redneck Yacht Club and Always Saturday Night in Key West). Gina and Porsche rode on the shuttle with us and we walked into the Tuna together. Gina was wearing a pink bathing suit with a sarong, high heels, and head band.

When Thom Shepherd saw them, he started singing a song he wrote for Gina “ a tall woman with very large hands.” It was so fun, the crowd went nuts, and then Gina played with him and played while he was on break. It was fun and a very rowdy group.

We enjoyed two concerts by Howard Livingston and the Mile Marker 24 Bank, Scott Kirby, Peter Mayer, and the PM Group.

In between all these amazing Trop Rock live performances, we met our friends at Joe’s for the Panthers win against the Packers. The fourth quarter was very stressful but in the end we remain undefeated at 8–0.

Then we ran off to 801 Bourbon Bar for Sunday night legendary Bingo with Mitch Jones (cross dresser). It is a fundraiser for charity every Sunday evening at one of the drag show cabarets. It is billed as “ NOT your Momma’s Bingo! We have attended before so we had to make sure we attended and took Belinda and Jim with us.

After the busy weekend, we went to lunch with friends we knew from Smith Mountain Lake. They were on a cruise ship and in KW for the day. Nancy, our Parrothead friend from Lynchburg came too. It was great to catch up.

We were so exhausted and had a cocktail party to attend at the marina. We decided we would go, stay about ½ hour and come back to the boat. Best laid plans. It did not happen because we were having so much fun. First Gweko W. Phlocker, a local host and producer of WXKW, 104.9 Key West radio station who we have become friends with showed up followed by Gina and Porsche. Gina played and sang and we all danced and sang. It was a very fun, impromptu gathering.

November 2

It has been a wild and crazy week during Fantasy Fest 2015. During the day it has been excessively hot, oppressive weather, remaining very hot all night. I am sure all the stages of undress/nakedness would still exist even if it were not so warm.

We were shocked to discover that nudity is illegal in Key West. Apparently no one adheres to that law nor do the police seem to care. Pasties for gals and a solo cup for guys suffice for not being naked.

Wednesday we purchased tickets to the annual Red Party (not for the Republicans) at Fogarty’s Bar with proceeds donated to the high school’s scholarship fund. Everyone dresses in red; the entire place was decorated in red with a band, drinks, wild costumes and/or lack of said costumes, with a contest for the best Red costume. We met many fun people; bar hopped, and enjoyed the scenery.

We went to Schooners Wharf Bar to observe Wharfstock (Woodstock 60's dress) but we missed the Dungeon of Dark Secrets and Fetishes, Pajama Party, the Tidy White Party, and the ABC (anything but clothes) Party by design.

Thursday we tried to go to Dante’s Halos & Horns Party but could not get in the door. We had been pre-warned by locals that if we did attend that we do not go into the pool. Just use your imagination as to the reason. We were to meet Ed Waters from Smith Mountain Lake there but met at Island Dogs instead for some drinks and on to the Green Parrot to listen to music with them. It was great catching up and we will be getting together with them again this week. He also has a Hatteras he keeps here in Key West.

Friday was the Duval Street Fair with the mile-long event of arts, crafts, food, drink, costumes, etc., followed by the Masquerade March.

The March is a huge favorite and was one of our favorite events. The parade was filled with thousands of elaborately costumed people crowding the streets, enjoying libations along the way. The participants were pulling coolers, had live music on floats — it was one huge, great party. We missed the Fetish and Fantasy Party and the Pimp and Ho Party.

Saturday we decided against the Kinky Couples Party hosted by RubberDoll and sat up our chairs at 2 pm for the 7 pm parade. It was fortunate we were prepared to do this because the parade route filled up quickly. We enjoyed the day eating from all the food trucks, having drinks, and watching all the body painted and/or naked people parading around.

We parade was amazing and fun but the crowd was absolutely out of control after. We had a difficult time getting off of Duval Street because of the thousands of wild, out of control revelers.

Yesterday and today we stayed at the marina to rest up in preparation for Meeting of the Minds (MOTM) which starts Wednesday. MOTM is a sponsored event of Parrot Heads in Paradise Inc. (PHIP) which is the Jimmy Buffet sponsored clubs across the country. All attendees are required to be members of an official club to register and enjoy the week long event to share and enjoy the love of music and writings of Jimmy Buffet, the fellowship of like-minded friends, and to continue the charitable ideals set forth by PHIP. So we will be Partying With a Purpose.

The first event will be Wednesday at Island Dogs with the Virginia Clubs hosting the first meet and greet. We are looking forward to seeing some old friends.

The main event will be held at the Casa Marina Resort with almost non-stop music for 5 days. Many of the musicians will also be playing at the various clubs and bars around Key West.

October 26

We have had a few doctor’s appointments that we have gotten out of the way this week and gearing up for all the big Fantasy Fest events.

Sunday, we rode our bikes to the Zombie Bike Ride and Festival.

October 24

We arrived in Key West on October 16, a few days early due to the front approaching front with high winds. We have been remiss in updating the site because, well, we are in Key West.

We went downtown as soon as we arrived, Cindy had her Key West haircut, and we visited some of our favorite bars, and walked around. We are so happy to be back.

The next day we met Bill and Vicki, our friends who live here, at a sports bar for the Steeler’s win then went back to their house for the Panther’s win.

We purchased bikes even though the marina has a shuttle bus; it is easier to get around via bike and on our own schedule.

Jim and Belinda, on Rickshaw, arrived two days after we did, running just in front of the front and were also happy to be here.

Fantasy Fest has officially started but only a few things on the schedule for the next few days.

Yesterday we attended the Goombay Festival in Bahama Village which was fun; we shopped then hung out at Island Dog.

Tonight, we are going to the Jam Session at the Shrimp Road Grill, here at the marina for dinner, drinks, music.

The weather is hot and glorious. It is very windy which feels wonderful if you are not trying to maneuver the boat.

Unfortunately, it was very windy when we arrived, we couldn’t get into our assigned slip, ended up doing some paint damage as we blew into another slip. We decided to stay put and will move sometime this week when the winds die down. We have had winds in excess of 40 knots this week.

Our last day at anchor we found a beach to clean the dinghy bottom which we had been towing for a few weeks and were shocked to find it covered with barnacles. Since it moved every day, we did not think that would happen.

We scrubbed and scrubbed then had to complete the job when it was in the cradle on the boat as we were lying on our backs scrapping barnacles on our faces. We learned another valuable lesson.

As we were raising the dinghy with the davit to the upper deck, the motor started making very bad noises and we barely got it sit up on the deck before it died. We were very happy to have it on deck since it would have been impossible docking.

So, we have ordered a new motor since Curt was unable to rebuild the old new. Nothing is easy on boats as he could not get the old one off. We finally found a very big, strong guy with the correct tools that was able to drill off the old bolts, plate, and motor.

Next, Curt was clearing the grill and found it had a broken part so we have a new grill coming. We certainly hope all these repairs will stop soon but since we are in our favorite place, it is much earlier to deal with.

We will keep you posted with all the events in the upcoming week as it is going to be crazy.

October 14, 5 a.m

We have been up for several hours after dragging anchor through the harbor as a storm blew through, wind increased then changed direction. This is the first time we have drug our anchor on our own since we have been anchoring. The other time, also in the middle of the night, was caused by another boat going over the top of our anchor and pulling it up. The anchoring is difficult in the Keys because of the grass, and sand over coral.

We were sleeping and felt the boat jerk so we jumped up, started the engines, got the anchor up as we were dangerously close to several others boats. We were cautiously motoring out of the harbor in the dark with the wind howling with the other boats under power driving in circles as they had drug too. It was difficult to locate the other boats and try to determine what they were doing. They all reset close to where they were but we went out of the basin to get some distance between us and the others.

We are now safe, secure, the anchor is holding and the storm has passed. So, we are just drinking coffee, watching the weather, checking the anchor, and waiting for daylight to head to our next destination.

I guess we have just been having way too much fun the past week or so.

October 12, 13

Islamorada. We anchored in a nice, quiet basin off The Ocean View Inn and Sports Pub owned by former defensive tackle for the Pittsburg Steelers, Gary Dunn. He played 12 seasons in the 70's and 80's, is a two time Super Bowl champ, and has the title of having sacked Joe Namath, Bob Griese, and Jim Kelly.

We really enjoyed Ocean View on our last trip through and wanted to return. They have a beautiful pool, great sports bar, views, friendly people, and a nice dinghy dock.

It was a nice treat Monday night as the Steelers were playing, pulling off a win as they were down at half. It was a fun game to watch with all the Steelers fans.

We spent two afternoons there hanging out at the pool that is either cooled or heated depending on the weather. It has been excessively hot with temperatures in the 90's, feeling like 100 so it was nicely cooled.

October 11

Moved another 6 miles further down Key Largo as Cindy needed a prescription refilled so we had to anchor, dinghy, and walk. We were not sure exactly where CVS was located but we tied up at a beautiful dock at Snook’s Tiki Bar, a beautiful new restaurant and bar. Fortunately, CVS was just across the street so we returned for some drinks, watched the games, and listened to the band.

Steel drums were scheduled for the evening so we returned and enjoyed dinner, drinks, music, a beautiful sunset, and the company of a family from Switzerland. They kindly gave us a large bar of Swiss chocolate which was heavenly.

October 10

We moved 6.5 miles to the next tiki bar, Gilbert’s. We had been here before and arrived on a perfect day, the local Parrothead Clubs sponsoring a “Team Pink” day for breast cancer. We were treated to the music of Sauce Boss, an amazing one-man show. In addition to his amazing musical talents, he makes gumbo during each show and serves it free after. He has feed millions of people over the years from Michigan to the Keys.

Our friend, Nancy, Parrhothead friend from Lynchburg, saw my FaceBook post and texted to tell us she had very good friends at the event that are members of the local club. We found them immediately, enjoyed their company, and made plans to see them again at Meeting of the Minds in Key West. It is so fun to make these connections as we travel around.

We went back to the boat for a rest before the evening show, The Shane Duncan Band and Michael Trixx, who has been on America’s Got Talent and clubs across the company. He was not memorable with magic, fire, and other strange things.

October 9, 10

We had a beautiful anchorage off the northern part of Key Largo across the bay from Homestead. We explored the mangrove rivers but were disappointed in the lack of wildlife.

We did have a great time at Alabama Jacks, a weathered 1950's era floating barge in an old fishing community, a Keys institution. We enjoyed the locals, a great Jimmy Buffet type singer, Corona’s, and delicious fresh fish. It is located in the mangroves directly on the road so one needs to be careful leaving the front of the building. It closes at dusk every day because of all the mosquitoes.

October 7

We went to a beautiful national park, Boca Chita Key Harbor. Approaching, we headed for the beautiful lighthouse that guarded the entrance into a large basin surrounded with cement and tie-up cleats. It was beautifully landscaped with tropical plants, picnic tables, grills, walkways, access to the beach, trails to walk the historical grounds of the Honeywell estate. We were excited as we were the only ones there and could pick the ideal spot. No one was around, not even a park ranger. It was very calm so we were able to get tied up by ourselves and we excited for spending several days.

About 10 minutes later, we were exiting the harbor because we had been eaten alive by large black mosquitoes. We even tried bug spray with no avail.

We continued south, anchored for the night at Elliot Key, about a mile off shore. We were shocked to discover the mosquitoes were out that far. We had to stay inside with the screens closed. We were able to get in the beautiful, clear, warm water to escape the bugs and went out for awhile in the dinghy.

We found Elliot Key National Park and decided to explore only to find out there was no one there except bugs.

It was really sad to have two beautiful national facilities that are unable to be utilized.

We are inquiring as to a time a year that the mosquitoes aren’t there but thinking that is probably never.

October 6

Bill Baggs State Park, Cape Florida, Key Biscayne

We decided to anchor in No Name Harbor, part of the park, since we read it was a large basin where many boats can anchor but we were the 3rd boat and found it a little crowded for our taste but decided to try it. It is unusual to charge to anchor but they have a charge of $20 just to anchor. We put the anchor down, were close to the mangroves with no breeze, know other boats would come in and anchor too close, so decided to pull up and move to an anchorage called Outside No Name Harbor. It is just outside the anchorage at the inlet so it is a little rolly but a nice breeze, no bugs, better views, no charge, and plenty of room.

We have a view of not only the lighthouse but of Stitlesville. Stitlesville is an area consisting of seven wooden structures located about 1 mile from where we are anchored off Key Biscayne. It is a time capsule of what life was like back in the 20's and 30's. It began when Crawfish Eddie Walker built a shack on stilts above the water in 1933, toward the end of prohibition, allegedly to facilitate gambling which was legal at one mile offshore. Crawfish Eddie sold bait and beer from his shack and was known for a dish called chilau, a crawfish chowder made with crayfish he caught under his shack. Some of his fishing buddies built shacks and so did others, some by boating and fishing clubs. Local newspapers called the area “the shacks” and “shack colon.” They became speakeasy establishments with large partying crowds arriving by boat from Miami.

Today, seven shacks remain and it appears that Florida will declare the few surviving structures an historical site and preserve them as they have unique and significant historic and cultural value.

We rode around them in the dinghy, found them in good condition. Some of the water around the structures was so shallow we could have walked.

October 5

Marine Stadium, Key Biscayne

The 6,556 seat facility, built and completed in 1963, is the first stadium purpose-built for powerboat racing in the US. It is impressive to be anchored and enjoying the view in the huge basin with many other anchored boats. We remember watching the hydroplane, performance, and other boat races on TV in the 60's and 70's.

The basin is used for crew races, sailing sleds, and war canoes.

With a floating stage, it was the host for boxing matches, concerts and Sunday services. A movie with Elvis was filmed here, a very rowdy Jimmy Buffett concert was held here in the late 80's as well as other top name performers.

It was deemed unsafe after Hurricane Andrew; closed but later engineering studies declared it was not damaged. Currently, funds are being raised to preserve this historic landmark.

We had a beautiful view at night of the Miami skyline while we listened to a neighbor serenade us with his violin.

October 2, 3, 4

North Miami Beach anchored in Maule Lake. Maule Lake is ¾ x ½ mile, an old limestone rock quarry with hundreds of condos and homes around the lake and canals. It is very quiet and protected. We are amazed that besides the 7 permanently moored boats, 1 other boat anchored here for 1 night. Hundreds of boats could anchor in the lake. We are not sure the reason it is bypassed but a great relief to hide from the Miami weekend boat traffic.

Apparently it was been sold to a Holland based company planning on building a very high end resort with island villas.

We were able to take the dinghy back over to the ICW to Duffy’s to watch the Panthers beat the Bucs.

September 30

Our stop for the day was to be Boca Raton so we could walk around the shops, museum, and enjoy the Addison Mizner’s architecture. However, the anchorage was full so we had to continue on to Ft. Lauderdale.

We anchored in Lake Sylvia, a residential area with high end mansions on man-made canals. It was beautiful and protected but as the weekend approached, boats started crowding in; we were not comfortable so we decided it was time to move.

It was around noon when we decided to pull the anchor, we had 4 bridges to be opened and the current was running about 3 knots. We were being pushed all over waiting for the first bridge to open; we were towing the dinghy, and had to reverse. Our line cutters worked well cutting the dinghy line and she took off. We tried to get the boat to her but with the current and the shallow water were unable to reach her. Luckily, a nice, kind fisherman came by, retrieved her, and returned her. It took him several tries in his small boat to finally snag her. The kind bridge tender delayed the opening for us, thankfully. They generally will not deviate from their scheduled openings.

September 29

We anchored off Palm Beach in Lake Worth, south of the inlet and a mile from Peanut Island. It has been excessively hot so the swimming and snorkeling in the clear water at Peanut Island was lovely.

We never knew the difference between West Palm Beach and Palm Beach but now definitely know the difference. Palm Beach is on the barrier island and is exclusive to the very rich and famous (Donald Trump, Kennedy family, John Lennon, Rod Stewart, etc.). We went to the Municipal Marina to leave the dinghy so we could walk around Worth Ave (the Rodeo Drive on the east) and see some of the Flagler/Addison Mizner’s architecture. They did not have a dinghy dock so we tied up to the wall at the city park so we would not have to access the locked gates from the marina. We were immediately told to move along. We inquired as to where we could land the dinghy and told nowhere in Palm Beach, we could go across the ICW to a park at West Palm Beach to tie up. We were disappointed but the dinghy ride was enjoyable viewing the tremendous mansions and compounds. The average home price is 3.2 million.

We enjoyed Peanut Island Park. It is a party island, Jimmy Buffett atmosphere, with gardens, palm trees, paths, picnic tables, grills, sandbar for swimming, artificial reef with tropical fish, fishing pier, and campground. It was a great time and we enjoyed being off the boat.

September 28

We have been travelling down the ICW and anchoring each night since leaving St. Augustine.

Thursday, September 24, we arrived at Harbour Isles Marina in Ft. Pierce. We stopped to visit with Steve and Linda on Coral Bay. It was awesome since the last time we had seen them was in the Abacos prior to crossing back to the states.

Our friends, Mary and Vince on Betty B, the big-sister of our boat, live a half mile by water from the marina. Betty B is a 58' LRC that they keep behind their house. We dinghed over and visited Friday, on Saturday evening we were their guests at the Pelican Yacht Club for a wonderful evening with great company, a beautiful view of the inlet, and incredible food.

Sunday we moved Classic Cyn to their dock and went to 2nd Street Bistro with them to watch the Panthers beat New Orleans. Unfortunately, they are Cowboy fans and didn’t win.

We went back to their house, Linda and Steve came over for drinks, then we had dinner.

We left today and are at Sunset Bay Marina on a mooring in Stuart. We have never stopped at Stuart before and enjoyed walking on the river walk and downtown with all the shops and bars.

September 18, 19, 20

We picked up a mooring in the field at St. Augustine, one of our favorite stops. Our friends on Cheshire, Mike and Lori are there and it was Mike birthday. We meet them for dinner with some of their boating friends then to an “interesting” club for drinks and music. It was a great evening.

We met Mike and Lori at the Blue Hen for a wonderful breakfast Saturday to catch up since we last saw them in the Bahamas.

We still were not happy with the way Curt’s leg was looking so we decided to take a trek to the doctor. We had never used the bus system and information was a little sketchy.

We walked from downtown to US 1 figuring a bus may come by. Luckily it did. Then, we had no idea where to get off. Fortunately, St. Augustine is a super friendly town and we received a lot of help from other riders. The drive, ridiculously rude refused to help. He said he never heard of the Urgent Care which was next to the hospital. We thought it was strange and mentioned it to the receptionist. Oddly, all employees of the bus company have their physicals at this location. I guess he just was unlike the others in this great town.

The doctor thought the leg was healing as expected but he needed more oral antibiotics. He gave him Cipro and told us we needed to have that on the boat. He gave us a prescription for a month so we would have extra.

We stayed and chatted to the doctors, nurses, staff about boating, Fantasy Fest, local events, etc. When we checked out we were inquiring as to the best place to get the RX filled. It looked like a monsoon outside so the receptionist insisted we take her car and told us that what people do around here. We resisted but finally decided it was a great idea. The prescription was waiting for us when we got there; we returned the car, waited 50 minutes for a bus and got lucky that it went downtown. It takes a lot of effort sometimes to do simple things.

Sunday, we walked across the street to a great pub and watched the Panthers win against the Texans.

September 16

Anchored the past few nights and stopped in Brunswick, GA for fuel and visited our friends on Astral Sky. We stayed several hours but needed to leave to reach Jekyll Island at high tide due to severe shoaling.

Tonight, we are anchored on the north end of Cumberland Island. It is raining, visibility is less than 1/8 mile, and windy. So, it has not been an ideal cruising day.

September 13

Our friends that were scheduled to meet us in Savannah had to cancel so we continued to Delegal Creek Marina, 15 miles south. We used a golf cart to go to the 19th hole bar to watch the Panthers win against the Jaguars. The marina is located in a beautiful community of 4,000 homes with 48 tennis courts with bleachers, many pools, activities, golf courses and extremely friendly people. It was a great stop.

September 11, 12

First thing Friday morning, the repairman went to get the new motor for the AC. The installation was almost complete when the copper tubing bent, leaking Freon. So, back to the store for Freon and tubing. The mechanic came back to the boat and, after 11 hours, we had AC. It is so amazing to have a found a reliable, reasonable boatyard with expert craftsmen.

We decided to stay an extra day so Curt could change the oil while we were stopped.

The staff had offered their personal cars to us so we inquired about the closest Urgent Care as Curt’s leg needed a re-check. They told us they had a retired ER Doc that was out for a cruise and he would come over when we got back. So, we enjoyed the great company of the doctor that made “boat call.” He was very funny, had great stories, and showed us a new treatment that has helped the healing process. This is definitely a full-service marina.

September 10

We arrived at Sail Harbor Marina for our AC repair; they immediately jumped on the boat and started the repairs. Curt and the repairman got the unit out of the boat. The MTOA Port Captain, Jim Horton, also came to meet us. The marina is extremely friendly and has gone out of their way to accommodate us.

September 9

We have decided to make two long days to get to Savannah to have the AC repaired. As we were cruising through Charleston Harbor today, we saw a water spout that was quite impressive. Luckily, it headed north. We figured we have made enough bad stuff going on; we didn’t need to see a water spout any closer.

We transited several areas that are heavily shoaled and, ideally, wise to go through at high tide. We were holding our breath as we went through a few areas at mid-tide but all was well.

September 8

Anchored north of Charleston in Dewees Creek, lovely anchorage in the grasslands with a distant view of the beautiful Charleston Bridge.

We are still experiencing issues with our charging system, having no battery power after running the boat for 6 hours so had to run the generator for hours to recharge the batteries. Since the gen was running and it was bloody hot, we decided to run the air in the salon. Unfortunately, as soon as we turned it on, we heard very loud banging coming from the unit. Curt tried to troubleshoot but it is buried under the dinette. Last time it needed service he had to cut wood under the dinette to access the unit.

Then as Cindy was looking over the side, she saw a crab pot float attached to the underside of the boat. Since Curt has staph on his leg, there is no way he could get into the dirty, alligator infested waters to clear the pot. So, Cindy dove the boat, diligently tried for 30 minutes, finally freeing the float line from the stabilizer.

So, we are not sure exactly where we picked up all these gremlins that are hitching a ride with us, but we really to have them walk the plank and send them back ashore.

At a loss, we reached out to MTOA (Marine Trawlers Owners Association) of which we are a member. We played to be in Savannah next week to meet friends so we thought that would be a good place to try for repairs.

Fortunately, the Port Captain in the Savannah area got right back to us lining up an AC professional and a marina where he keeps his boat.

September 7

Anchored in Minim Creek, south of Georgetown, SC.

September 4, 5, 6

After leaving Carolina Beach, Curt checked the diesel and the valves every 30 minutes and for some strange reason, the problem corrected itself. We are not sure if the mechanics or Curt did something but at least it seems OK.

We decided to spend the holiday weekend at Bucksport Plantation Marina, between Myrtle Beach and Georgetown. It was a fun, relaxing weekend. The marina has an RV park, restaurant, tiki bar, and live music Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.

We found out that Ed Waters, owner of the Bridge complex at Smith Mountain Lake owns this marina. We sent a message with the dock master to Ed to let him know we enjoyed his new venture. We have known Ed for years so it was great to discover he is the owner.

We met some great people at the RV Park and the tiki bar.

Curt fell over 10 days ago, lacerating his shin with a 7' cut down to the bone. It was infected and looking worse daily. We didn’t have a way to get to a doctor so just kept trying our best to doctor it ourselves. We met an awesome couple with a RV that insisted we take their car, go to Conway, the closest city, and get it checked.

We were hesitant to borrow a perfect stranger’s car but we knew we needed to. They did remind us that if we failed to show back up, they did have our boat which made us feel much better.

It is a good thing we went. After x-rays and blood work, it was determined that he had a staph infection. So, he is on a powerful antibiotic for 10 days and an antibiotic lotion that needs to be put on the wound and changed three times a day. We has quit close to needing wound care. It needs to be rechecked in a week. Fortunately, we will be in Savannah so we should be able to find a doctor downtown.

We certainly are appreciative for Jimmy and Sylvia being so kind and generous with the use of their car.

September 3

As we left Wrightsville Beach, the diesel issue returned so we called the mechanic. They meet us at Joyner’s Marina in Carolina Beach. He worked several hours with his assistant; they were perplexed, and gave up. So, we spent the night at the marina.

As we were ready to head into the marina, a huge thunderstorm with 40 mph winds blew in. The Coast Guard announced it 10 minutes after it hit. We knew we could not get into the marina so just hovered in the waterway. As we were hovering, we were hit by lightening, lost our electronics, and Cindy, on the back deck preparing dock lines, and was tingling. When we finally got into the marina, Cindy stopped tingling, we rebooted the electronics, and everything worked.

We decided this week has certainly not been our best nor has it been fun.

September 2

We got up as planned because the Surf City Bridge was hit by a barge in July causing construction on the bridge, opening only at 8:30 am and noon. The current was against us for awhile but we made it, thankfully.

Then the day started to go downhill. Our new alternator and chargers were not working, putting stress on the new batteries. We had to run the generator to get any power. Then we discovered an issue with valves for the diesel.

We had to stop at Wrightsville and with the help of Reis, found a mechanics to come to us and fix the valves. Curt was on the phone with Wayfarers Cove troubleshooting the charging issues. It turned out to be a sensor.

September 1

We left Wayfarers Cove Marina after 3 months in the yard. It was great to be cruising again.

Our first anchorage was at Camp Lejeune, a 60 mile day. We had to wait for 45 minutes at the live, active firing range for the maneuvers to be over, and then we had to wait another 30 minutes for a bridge to open. We are happy to relax and continue to watch the war games proceed in our anchorage. There were 2 big, double rotor-type helicopters doing fly-bys and touch and go landings. It was a sight to see but we tired of it when we tried to sleep. Finally, at midnight, they stopped. We needed to get up at 5:30 am because of a critical bridge opening.

Sadly, the next evening, one of the helicopters came down too hard; one was killed and nine injured. Prayers to our brave marines for such a freak accident.

August 13–23

We had a wonderful trip to New Mexico to visit Cindy’s brother George and sister-in-law Mary in Las Cruses. We enjoyed visiting, swimming in their pool, walking the local Saturday market, a day trip to the cliff dwellings, and 5 nights in the RV.

The Las Cruses Saturday market was fun with all the produce, food vendors, and artists. Green chilies are very popular in NM so we were able to take our 30# box for a fascinating experience to be roasted. The several bags we froze survived the trip home. They eat them on everything and we thoroughly enjoyed them.

We visited the Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument near Silver City, northwest of Las Cruses. It was a beautiful hike up to the dwellings from the canyon below. As we arrived, a thunderstorm came through so we were able to take shelter in the dwellings. It was an amazing experience to hear the thunder inside and then hear the sound as it reverberated through the canyon. It hailed for about 5 minutes then we took a fresh water shower to cool down from the hike up the mountain. New Mexico is very hot in August.

Sadly, vandals and relic-seekers have broken down walls, burned roofs, removed pots, tools and other items so it is impossible to the know the specifics of each cave. The site has been protected for many years but the damage had been done. The dwellings has storage areas, central rooms, hearths, ash pits, depressions that once held ollas (round-bottomed pots) and defined areas that held family units.

When we climbed the stairs into the largest cave, there was a dramatic difference in light, temperature, and sound. It was long and low so it could block out the summer sun and retain warmth in the winter. The space in the back was likely a courtyard. The forward rooms seem to be subterranean and used as communal rooms for ceremonial and other purposes.

We were able to climb ladders to peer over the walls and try to image what each room was used for. There is a two-level structure perched between two cave openings, unusual for this site. The lower level was likely storage and had no standing room and the interior walls are not sooty. The upper level has a ventilator above the doorway and interior walls are sooty, so it must have been a residence.

We visited the beautiful minor Basilica of San Albino of Mesilla in Las Cruses and walked around the plaza center of this old, very historic part of town. There are “major” and “minor” basilicas in the world and this is one of fewer than 100 in the US.

Our first stop in the RV was Albuquerque. George and Mary have a good friend there we met for dinner, visited her home, shopped and visited the historic downtown, and had lunch the next day. The population is 500,000 but the city center has the old pueblo style buildings and Native Americans selling their beautiful art work.

We then headed to Santa Fe, parked the RV, and drove the jeep to Taos, a beautiful town with the Pueblo, the oldest continuously inhabited community in the USA. The Pueblo’s goal is to maintain the area of over 100,000 acres in its natural state and protect the tribal lands outside the village walls. The area is considered scared, their language, Tiwa, is unwritten, unrecorded, and will remain so. Due to past oppressions upon their culture, they maintain their privacy. The Pueblo closed for 10 days the day after we visited for a scared, private celebration. The natives were beautiful, friendly, and welcoming.

The elevation of Taos is 7,000' and the mountain, their land, a source of pride and scared tradition looms in the distance at 13,000'.

The San Geronimo Church on the Pueblo, built in 1850, is an architectural achievement of the natives. It is interesting they have intertwined Catholicism with their native culture. The Native religion is verbally passed down from generations.

The cemetery has the ruins of the original church built in 1619 by Spanish priests with Indian labor as the people were forced into Catholicism and slavery in order to become “civilized.”

As we walked around we saw drying racks used to dry game, dry hides, their harvested crops, then cured. We saw many Horno, the outdoor adobe ovens using cedar fire to bake bread, game and vegetables.

The Red Willow Creek runs through the Pueblo, is the life source and sole source of drinking water. It is carried to the home by pottery pails. High above in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, the crystal clear water flows from a sacred source known as Blue Lake. The lake and the surrounding wilderness area are sacred sites; therefore, non-tribal members are not allowed to enter these areas.

The buildings are made entirely of adobe; earth, straw, and water mixed and poured into forms then the bricks are sun-dried, stacked and bonded together with the same mixture. The walls are several feet thick and the interiors are coated with washes of white earth of keep the rooms bright and clean. A beautiful gallery was open so we were able to observe the inside; a beautiful area with sky lights, the white walls, and large rooms.

The exteriors are plastered annually with adobe due to exposure of four seasons. The Pueblo maintains a restriction of no electricity and no running water within the sacred village.

It is interesting that the adobe wall served as keeping people safe and undisturbed during ceremonial times and today, this wall serves as a boundary where Traditional Cultural beliefs are nurtured and where the foreign beliefs do not apply.

Driving from Santa Fe to Taos, we took the high road through beautiful mountains; saw a mind boggling amount of mineral mining, and small towns to visit Chimayo on the sacred road and Santuario de Chimayo.

El Santuario de Chimayo is the sight of thousands of pilgrims yearly searching spiritual, emotional, and physical healing. The “dirt” found at the room known as the “pocito” (well) is considered holy because in this spot the crucifix of Our Lord of Esquipulas was found in 1810. The room is filled with testimonials, crutches, stories, candles, and pictures of healing for this yearly pilgrimage. We brought some dirt back for any future issues. It was very impressive, calming, spiritual, and soul-searching.

Outside of Taos we visited San Francisco de Asis in Ranchos de Taos, an 18th century National Historic Landmark and active church. San Francisco is one of the most photographed Spanish Colonial churches in the USA. Mary has painted and sold many watercolors of this church. It has twin bell towers, an arched portal entrance overlooking an enclosed courtyard, two large carved and painted reredos (alter screens with painted panels), hand-hewn vigas (ceiling beans), and unique buttresses.

In Santa Fe, we visited the Loretta Chapel with its mysterious spiral staircase. When the Chapel was completed in 1878, the builders neglected building access to the choir loft. Carpenters were called to address the problem but they all concluded access to the loft would have to be via ladder as a staircase would interfere with the interior space. The Sisters of the Chapel made a novena to St. Joseph, the patron saint of carpenters. On the ninth and final day of prayer, a man appeared at the Chapel with a donkey and a toolbox looking for work. Months later, the elegant circular was completed and the carpenter disappeared without pay or thanks. After searching for the man and running an ad in the local newspaper, finding no trace of him some concluded that he was St. Joseph himself.

Whoever built the stairway, built a magnificent structure. The design was innovative for the time and some of the design still perplexes experts today. The staircase has two 360 degree turns and no visible means of support. It was built without nails, only wooden pegs. The stairs have been featured in many articles, TV specials, and movies including ‘Unsolved Mysteries.”

Santa Fe is the second oldest city in the US, founded 44 years after St. Augustine and 13 years before the Pilgrims landed.

We attended the Santa Fe Indian Market and enjoyed some very beautiful, expensive art for sale. It was in the Santa Fe Plaza, a historic area with a central park and buildings from the Spanish colonial times. We drove through the Canyon Road area, the most upscale area in Santa Fe and one of the oldest parts of the city.

It was a wonderful trip not only visiting but enjoying the abode construction, the Native Americans, and all the beautiful, historic missions and churches.

August 3

Happy Birthday, Jenny Foster. 
 The boat is still on the “hard” and is scheduled to be “splashed” tomorrow. Work has continued but as we predicted, it has been long, tedious, and way over budget. Some engine work needs completed once the boat is in the water then, hopefully, it will be done.

We decided to purchase a new bed since our backs have been hurting. We were not sure how we would get the old one out of the boat let alone a new, improved, larger mattress downstairs. So, we decided on a Sleep Number which we installed today and are hoping it will be everything we are hoping. It is a good thing we went this route because it took four guys to get the old mattress out. Curt was close to cutting it in half but someone wanted it. The electronics for the Sleep Number was installed under the bed and hard-wired into the boat. The electrician said it was the first time he had wired a bed in a boat!

We are so thankful that our friends, Jim and Jane, have generously let us stayed in their condo. It has been a godsend and we are not sure we would have survived without it.

It has also been a great time to visit friends and family.

We flew to Seattle in June in time to celebrate Alia’s 4th birthday. It was a fun day starting with gymnastics for both girls, then pizza party at the splash pool in front of their house, then back to the house for cake.

Matt, Amy, Alia, Kira, Curt, and Cindy drove to Boise, ID for July 4th to visit Cindy’s sister, Donna, and our niece, Jennifer and Reyman. They live in a fantastic house on a mountain north of Boise. It is beautiful and peaceful on the mountain with no houses or cars in sight. We enjoyed the deck each night watching the elk come in for fresh water and the salt lick. The girls loved the pool they bought for them that helped cool them with the temperatures in excess of 106.

We had a fun July 4th in Idaho City for the local parade, reading of the Bill of Rights (Donna, Matt, and Cindy all participated), and then hot dogs and watermelon in the park. It is an interesting part of the country with survivalists coming down out of the mountains. It was a little scary with a lot of visible guns. Idaho City has a population of fewer than 500 with a traditional Americana celebration. The mode of transportation is off the road vehicles which were decorated and filled the parade as they threw candy, ice pops, and gifts to the kids. Even with the oppressive heat, it was an amazing, fun day and the girls had a ball.

We had to say goodbye to Cindy’s sister Donna as she left the day we did for South Africa. She has joined the Peace Corp and will be there for 2 ½ years. We are excited for her journey and experience but are sad we will not see her for 2 ½ years. We are praying for her safe return and for the difference she can make in many young lives.

Back in Seattle, we enjoyed the zoo, a museum, the park, and the great Seattle summer weather.

Three days after returning to NC, we drove to VA to visit Kristy and Tom on the way to Cincinnati. We were able to see Jack swim at the Ohio Junior Olympics at Miami University in Oxford, OH. Jack did terrific and his relay received a plaque for 2nd place. He is a great swimmer, works very hard, and loves it all.

We got to celebrate Jack’s 12th birthday with gifts, hot lava cake (one of his favorites), and breakfast at Ihop. We also went to many doctors, had all our tests, went to the dentist and had more worked done on both of us than anticipated. One night we all went out with the neighbors to enjoy 2 neighborhood bars/hangouts. It was a fun evening closing down the bar.

On the return to NC we stopped by Kristy and Tom’s and got to spend time with their 10 year old granddaughter we had not seen in several years.

Bahamas, January 14, 2015

May 31

We arrived at Wayfarers Cove Marina, Arapahoe, NC (where we spent last summer) on May 27, home until the end of August. Parts have been ordered, we are on the schedule for the work to begin, and we are attempting to get her cleaned up. Our water heater has arrived but we cannot install it because the new toilets need to go in first only after the new floors are installed. Actually, the new wallpaper properly needs hung first. So, it is going to be a very long, tedious project since it involves many different people. The one remaining toilet is acting up so this all can’t happen to soon but projects in any boatyard seems to run at a snail’s pace.

We have leased a car for several months, have a furnished condo next door to use when we are out of the water, and have several trips planned for the summer.

The last of June, early July will be Seattle and Boise, July to Cincinnati, and August New Mexico to visit George and Mary, Cindy’s brother. So we are looking forward to having a break from the boat and hope work will continue when we are gone.

Our friends on Sunnyside are in Oriental so we enjoyed a great time with them the other day at their marina. We hung out at the pool, grilled, and caught up with them. They spent the winter in Marathon where we last visited them in January.

On the way up the ICW we stopped to visit Reis and Susan at their marina north of Wrightsville and had a wonderful weekend catching up with them. As always, we enjoyed their company and that of their great friends who always makes us feel welcome.

May 21

We have been moving north and will be outside Georgetown SC tonight. Last night, south of Charleston, we got the anchor down just in time for a 35+ knot thunderstorm to blow through. We held great, Cindy got a little wet getting the anchor down but at least it was down. After the storm passed, it was a beautiful evening until two more storms rolled in overnight. Luckily, the later ones were not as severe. The tidal swing is 8–10' with very strong currents and when the winds are opposing the currents the results are not always predicable or pleasant. Because the currents were so strong, it turned the boat sideways to the wind instead of bow into the wind. So we were taking those high winds on the beam (side) of the boat which is not comfortable especially when a boat this size heals over.

We have had to calculate our time and distance to transit 10 areas on the ICW that have severely shoaled. We cannot get through these areas at low tide. It has been a challenge wanting to make time and distance but having to anchor earlier than we would like to wait for the ideal tide and current the next day.

It is amazing that the cruising community is surprisingly small as we discover running into folks we have met at faraway places. As we were cruising the other day, we were pleased to receive a call from friends we met in Bimini. We spent a week with them (they are pictured when we rented a golf cart in Bimini), then met up with them several other times while in the Bahamas. They are a fun couple and we enjoyed their company.

When they called, they asked us if we were in a horrendous blow in Richmond Island, Maine in June of 2013. Shocked by the question, we said that we were. He then proceeded to tell us we were the ones who pulled him off the rocks that night and helped save their boat.

Apparently, they were cleaning the boat and found a scrap of paper with Classic Cyn, Curt written on it but nothing else. It that point, they recalled we had been the folks that helped them that night. It did not register when they met us and we didn’t recognize them because they have a different boat now.

I must copy an insert from our website dated June 25, 2013, our first night in Maine:

Our first night was memorable with a huge thunderstorm and strong winds. We were fine but the sailboat next to us drug his anchor and ended on the rocks. Curt went by kayak to help returned to get the dinghy and pulled him off the rocks (10 pm by now) about the time BoatUS Tow Boat arrived. His plan was to have the tow boat pull him off the rocks and then set another anchor. He ended up being towed to Portland…..

Several times a day, one of us just starts laughing and the other one knows we are thinking about this. Again, such a small world and a smaller cruising community. Curt told him when he called he would have been nicer to him that night if he had known he is such a great guy. He found that very funny.

May 15

We have traveled 157 miles in three days so decided to rest a day in St. Augustine on a mooring. We really enjoy St. Augustine and getting off the boat after six days. Our first stop was A1A bar for a drink. We both thought we were going to fall off the bar stool since we were rocking so badly. Fortunately, that sensation left us after we walked around. We then went to Harry’s for dinner, another St. Augustine favorite featuring New Orleans fare. The Crawfish Etouffee and Voodoo Shrimp were excellent as always.

When we leave tomorrow, we will be covering many miles with long cruising days, anchoring every night to get to NC as soon as possible to begin the repairs.

May 11

We were able to make the crossing, leaving Great Sale Cay in the Abacos at 12:30 am. The seas were rolly but it was not as bad as our crossing over. We arrived at Ft. Pierce at 5 pm and very happy to put the anchor down.

We had applied for and received a Small Vessel Reporting card from US Customs and Border Protection which enabled us to clear customs with a telephone call. We are so glad we took the time in Key West to make an appointment, go to the airprt, and obtain this card before leaving. Otherwise, after 17 hours of travel we would have had to drop the dinghy, find a taxi, then find a Customs office.

May 9

Departed Marsh Harbour today, the weather is finally clearing and tropical storm, Ana, has headed north with the seas behind her are calming.

Anchored past Green Turtle Cay at Manjack Cay. Tomorrow we will anchor at Great Sale Cay, the staging point for our 118 mile crossing to Ft. Pierce.

We will be losing cell service and internet shortly after leaving tomorrow so will be out of touch until we arrive in Florida which we hope will be May 11 in the evening.

April 29, 30

Marsh Harbour

Storms are continuing to blow through with high winds, rain, and lightening. It looks like we may be here longer than we would like but at least we are at a great place. Tonight is Rib Night at the bar here at the marina that we are all looking forward to attending.

We have enjoyed the past few days in Marsh Harbour. We rented a car with Steve and Linda to explore the area since the weather prohibits moving the boat. We drove south to Little Harbour to visit Pete’s Pub and Bronze Art Gallery. The Johnson family sailed into the harbor 50 years ago built the foundry, lush surroundings, homes, pub, and mooring.

We continued south to Cherokee Settlement with a population of around 100, most born and raised in the settlement. The streets are very narrow and oddly, all the homes have chain link fences. The people were friendly, the cottages small and well-taken care of but very isolated.

We then drove north of Marsh Harbour to Treasure Key where we had lunch at one of the top beaches in the world. Returning to Marsh Harbour and taking advantage of the rental, we stocked up at the large grocery store and boat parts from NAPA.

The next day, Linda and Cindy took the ferry to Hopetown for a wonderful day, exploring the unique, beautiful settlement, shopping in the boutiques and galleries, had lunch, and returned to the boats just prior to a squall with high winds and lightening. So glad we were at a marina.

April 26

Marsh Harbor Marina, Abacos

We are happy to be in a great marina with the winds, as predicted, high and will continue to be for the next week. We are having generator issues again with the small gen that was repaired in Nassau, lost our water heater and a fresh water pump today. We are finally giving up and will be returning at the first weather window.

The marina has a fun bar, The Jib, restaurant, pool, and great people. We had a great lunch upon on arrival then last night attended the Steak Night with delicious grilled steak and all the trimmings.

The entertainment was extremely fun and we finally experienced the Bahamian “Rake n’ Scrap” music. Rake n’ Scrap music comes from traditions of the Turks and Caicos using a saw as the primary instrument. It traditionally accompanies the heel-toe polka with a mixture of African and European dances. The Baha Men are an example of Bahamian artists. We had a great time dancing and enjoying the entertainment in addition to Limbo.

April 24

A gorgeous, flat calm day with an amazing sun rise as we head north to the Abacos. We are on a northerly track for our return to the states but mostly likely not cross for a few weeks. Severe weather is predicted in the next few days so we will be in a marina in Marsh Harbor.

It was great to be back in Spanish Wells, we visited Buda’s again, the great Happy Hour at Shipyard several times, Cindy got a hair cut from Buda’s wife — a little scary but it actually looks okay.

We spent the day in Harbour Island. We decided to take the ferry and spend the day instead of taking the boat around. Most boats secure a pilot to take them through the treacherous Devil’s Backbone to Harbour Island. The passage was awe-inspiring in contract to its beauty and danger with the coral heads, rocks, shoals, and breaking water against the beautiful clear water as we zigzagged between the beach and the coral heads. We passed the famed Preacher’s Cave. In 1647 the Eleutherian Adventurers left Bermuda to find a place they could enjoy religious freedom. They encountered a storm, the ship wrecked on the rocks in Devil’s Back Bone; they took refuge in a cave but lost all their provisions. An expert sailor in the group sailed a small boat to Boston and returned with help founding Eleuthera which is the Greek word for Freedom. Amish still reside in the area.

We were looking forward to what we believed was a little Bermuda; however, we were disappointed. The pink sand beaches and the cottage style homes with an abundance of flowers were fun to see as we explored the two by one mile island in a golf cart. We were quite surprised with the large number of run down homes.

Steve and Linda met us at the Ferry Dock so we could go to the great Happy Hour at the Shipyard. You have to love this place as I have pictured the way people come to happy hour; the golf cart parked on the ramp with a gallon jug of wine.

April 21

Anchored at Meeks Patch, 2 miles south of Spanish Wells. We navigated Current Cut today which must be taken very seriously as the current can run as much as 8 knots. We planned precisely to arrive at high, slack tide and had no issues transiting the cut even on one engine.

Shortly after leaving Hatchet Bay, we lost an engine. Curt diagnosed the problem as two broken belts. The sea conditions were not conducive to repair under way plus it was extremely hot in the engine room. We did fine on one engine and had no problems through the cut. The anchorage is very calm so even with the heat in the engine room; he really wanted to get it fixed. So, it is all fixed and ready to go again.

April 19, 20

Hatchet Bay

Hatchet Bay Inlet is deep with stone barrier shoreline cliffs protecting the harbor from the Sound. The approach was intimidating as all we could see were the steep stone cliffs until we were adjacent to the opening. Once inside, we had a very pleasant two days on anchor.

The settlement (as towns on Eleuthera are called) was quaint but very depressed. We rented a car with Steve and Linda traveling south 8 miles to James Cistern Settlement and north 15 miles to visit the Glass Window Bridge and the Queen’s Baths; both spectacular.

The Glass Window Bridge, the “Narrowest Place” on Earth links North Eleuthera to the mainland and is notable because you can see the dark Atlantic meeting the aquamarine Caribbean at the thinnest part of the island. It was originally an extraordinary natural arch linking the Exuma Sound to the Atlantic. The natural bridge was destroyed by a hurricane and we observed the boulders that landed one mile south. 100' rogue waves or rages have been known to unexpectedly wash over the bridge. It has not only washed people out into the ocean but cars as well, claiming many souls.

Queen’s Baths were dramatic with waves washing over the rocks and filling natural pools on the rugged Atlantic side of the island. The water is clear and warmed by the sun, perfect for soaking. We walked down the sharp, rocky bluffs that conceal the baths cautiously since the tide was coming in and the seas were rolly. The water felt wonderful but it was rising fast so we were not able to spend too much time.

I have pictured the coastline with many silos in the distance. This island was previously known for farming which has almost all disappeared. It was known as the Pineapple capital but now grows a limited amount. We stopped at a produce market and purchased one of the two harvested that day. It was sweet and delicious.

April 17, 18

Governor’s Harbour

As we continue north up the western coast of Eleuthera, we made a great stop at Governor’s Harbour, the first capital of the Bahamas with colorful colonial homes on the hill surrounding the harbor.

We were glad to be there for the weekend as every Friday evening is Fish Fry. We had a great time with the other cruisers in the harbor, visitors at the resorts, and some locals. They are famous for their Rum Bubbas which we overly enjoyed, fish on the grill, peas and rice, macaroni and cheese, dancing in the street with a DJ, and limbo.

Saturday was the Earth Day celebration from 12 pm to 12 am with DJ’s, food, crafts, exhibits, bands with local school children. It was a fabulous weekend with all the festivities. We stayed on shore longer than we had anticipated as we misjudged the tide and our dinghies were grounded. So we hung out some more and waited for the tide to come in. The sunset was unusual as it was partially obstructed by a rain showers (pictured).

One of our favorite parts of cruising is meeting fellow cruisers in one port and then running into them over and over.

When we were taking the dinghy to shore in Rock Sound Harbour we sighted Cheshire, our friends Mike and Lori who we meet in Oriental, NC. We have spent time with them in St. Simons, GA and Palm Cay Marina in Nassau. We enjoyed a drink with them in Rock Sound and then saw them again in Governor’s Harbour. They went to the Fish Fry with us and we had a great time. Also, Astral Sky who we meet in Gloucester Point several years ago and we have seen in several ports was there as well.

April 14, 15, 16

We found a great anchorage in Rock Sound, very secure and calm, and close to the government dock for the dinghy. It is very nice to have a calm, settled anchorage after a lumpy crossing. We walked around town, visited the grocery store, and arranged for a rental car on the 15th.

Linda, Steve, Curt, and Cindy had a fun day heading south by car to the whale’s tail portion of the island. We went to Cape Eleuthrea and Davis Harbor, had a nice fresh grouper sandwich, then back to Rock Sound to visit the Ocean Hole and Rose’s Beachside Restaurant.

Ocean Hole is a 600' deep sea water hole in the middle of town with thousands of tropical fish. Rose was quite a unique character. Her restaurant and bar sits on a beautiful beach on the east side of the island. We were not sure how to enter because it looked like a home with a cat guarding the door and a huge dog lying inside the screen door. We knocked and were told to enter. The room we entered had a sand floor. We continued through the house to the dining room and deck. She does not have a menu but cooks by request. We were not hungry and not sure any of us could have eaten there but what a treat talking to this unique woman for awhile.

We later saw her on the dock purchasing the local fresh catch for the evening reservations. She then proceeded to tell us how to make fish head soup and Mac and cheese.

We returned to the boat tired and hot but the swim behind the boat in the 86 degree water was exactly what we needed.

We were surprised to find that this part of the island is like other Bahamian Island, predominately black. It seems that only Spanish Wells is white only. We also discovered many illegal Haitians here which the locals do not necessarily approve.

April 13

Rock Sound Harbour, Eleuthera

We are happy to have made the crossing and plan on spending a few weeks exploring this island. The island is predominately white, very different from all the other Bahamian Island. The language is a mix of British from the 1700 Loyalist who settled the island and Bahamian. We enjoyed our few days in the northern part at Spanish Wells with the Grandy’s and are excited to see the remaining island. It is 110 miles long and 1 mile wide. Rock Sound is in the southern portion so we will be spending some time here before we start working our way up the coast to the north.

April 11, 12

Anchored off Highbourne Cay waiting for a weather window to cross over to Eleuthera.

We went into the marina and watched some fisherman off a mega yacht cleaning mahi-mahi and feeding the sharks. We asked to purchase some and they said no but they would give us some. Seems the attitude is that if you sell it, they stop catching it. We enjoyed a great fish dinner.

We visited the famous Allen’s Cay to observe the endangered, prehistoric iguanas. Sadly, tourists feed them which is endangering them more and has made them aggressive. After that, we snorkeled and caught some conch. We returned to the boat, Steve and Curt cleaned them, then Linda and Cindy made a conch salad as good as the locals. We followed that with fresh Wahoo.

April 10

Spent another two days at Normans Cay exploring with Linda and Steve. We went to the very nice looking restaurant on the island but were shocked to find hamburgers and fish sandwiches $25 each and $7 beers. It definitely was not that nice! We checked out some other places on the island where Carlos Lehder (Columbian drug lord mentioned the first of March) made his mark. The island is shaped like a fish hook we so took the dinghies out into the Atlantic and then back into the hook into a large bay and spent some time having lunch and enjoying the beach.

I have pictured us walking the dinghies over a shallow area where we did not read the water depth correctly. At least the 85 degree water feels wonderful.

We ventured across the inlet to Wax Cay, a private island with a beautiful, safe marina, homes with beautiful natural beaches with native stone break walls and steps. It appears to be another of many failed developments in the Bahamas although some of the homes were occupied.

The island is also called Vietnam Village as the buildings have thatched roof cottages that were disassembled in Vietnam, shipped to Wax Cay, and reassembled. They are adorned with oriental statues and architecture. It was lovely and would be great to rent a cottage on the island.

April 9

Hawksbill Cay, mooring. We spent the day exploring in the dinghy. We went to a gorgeous beach on the north end of the island. As we were walking on the beach by the inlet, we saw two Lemon Sharks. They were beautiful and actually the color of lemons.

April 7

We continued the 7 ½ miles south to Shroud to meet up with Rickshaw and Astral Sky. We had a great visit but they were anxious to continue south into the Exumas. We hiked to find the fresh water well then went up the river through the mangroves to the beach on the eastern side.

April 6

Coral Bay arrived at Palm Cay on March 24 and it was great catching up with them again after a month. We spent the past two days downtown Nassau doing errands and checking out different areas, doing laundry, and some provisioning. Once again, we were sad to leave the beautiful Palm Cay but lots of areas yet to explore. The weather forecast was off (again) so we had a rough ride to Norman Cay in the Exumas. Our plans were to go to Shroud Cay and meet up with Rickshaw but we were tired and felt beat up so we anchored and had a very peaceful night.

April 4

We had a fantastic week with Stephanie, Adam, and Jack that went by extremely fast. They arrived in the evening but were able to enjoy the pool and beach at the marina. We left the next morning and spent two days in Atlantis. Atlantis did not live up to any of our expectations but we still had fun.

The aquariums at Atlantis were awesome with many types of sharks, rays, and tropical fish. The waterslides and rides were a lot of fun. One of our favorite was the rapids river where the water surged and had rapids as some of the other rides emptied into the river. The waterslides were fun. Our biggest complaint was the number of people and lack of seating. They cram it full by selling excursion tickets from the cruise ships. It is unfortunate they do that because the pools, beaches, and attractions are fun.

Spanish Wells in Eluethera was our next stop and we all thoroughly enjoyed the quaint, friendly town. The houses are well-kept colorful Bahamian homes with extraordinary beaches with the clearest water we have seen with pink sand beaches.

We rented a golf cart so we could explore the island, enjoy several of the local bars, and spend time at the beach. Pictured is one of the cute waitresses we had. It was going to be cold that evening (mid 70's) so she wore her furry boots.

The guys went swimming one day in the harbor and we suddenly heard locals yelling at us to get out of the water. Apparently there were black tipped shark swimming around.

We had to head back to Nassau and anchored at Rose Island, just east of Nassau. Jack and Adam were able to explore with the dinghy but increasing winds we did not snorkel. We had an uncomfortable night at anchor and a lumpy ride Friday back to Palm Cay Marina.

As we were leaving Spanish Wells, we anchored off a sunken ship and enjoyed snorkeling. The ship, The Arimoroa, was in 20' of water and lies just 3’ beneath the water and partially visible from the surface.

In 1970, the Arimoroa, a steel-hauled, 260' Lebanese freighter with a cargo of fertilizer caught fire. The fires started in the galley and spread so rapidly that the captain ordered the ship to be run aground. The crew escaped but the cargo burned for 3 months, phosphates leaking making the surrounding area barren of sea life for several years. Hurricane Andrew broke the wreck in half.

The last day at Palm Cay was spent enjoying the amenities, lobster dinner, limbo, and music by the pool.

Saturday arrived way to fast; sad day for all of us especially those heading back to Ohio. However, they spent the trip home planning a return visit next Easter.

March 25

Travelling 11 miles back to Palm Cay Marina so Marine Diesel can work on one of the generators, and we can provision and do laundry in preparation for Stephanie, Adam, and Jack’s arrival on the 28th.

March 24

Anchored near Nassau at Rose Island Beach. We are very close to the beach with coral heads all around us. It was somewhat intimidating coming in but it is beautiful. The snorkel tour boats come here but after they departed, it was a lovely night. Atlantis looms in the background but beautiful lit up at night and the sun shining on it in the morning. The water temperature is an awesome 82 degrees.

March 22, 23

White Cay

Anchored in a beautiful spot but with an amazingly strong current. So strong in fact that our anchor bridle wrapped around the anchor chain. That has never happened before and it was interesting getting the anchor up. We met several other boaters, had cocktails on one boat, then on ours, and hiked to the blue hole. The blue hole was interesting and much larger than we anticipated with depths of 600'.

To get here, we had to go north around Stirrup and Little Stirrup Cay. Norwegian Cruise Lines and Royal Caribbean each own one island and bring the guests there for the day. They call is Coco Cay. It took us over an hour to cruise by, rather close to the ships and skiffs taking folks to shore. It was a nice diversion while cruising. Then we went down the eastern side of Great Harbor Cay and saw the restaurants and beaches we visited the day before. Unfortunately, there is no inlet from the east so we had to go up and around.

March 20, 21

Great Harbor Cay Marina. We came to a marina so we could celebrate our 45th wedding anniversary (March 21) on shore.

The marina was very nice and we walked to a beautiful crescent beach on the Atlantic side. Again, so amazing and post card perfect. We enjoyed the company of a few others from the marina and had fun watching 3 labs play in the surf.

The island has an interesting history. In the late 60's and early 70's development was booming. They created the marina basin by cutting through a quarter-mile harbor entrance through the limestone. When they did this it cut the little town in half. So, needless to say, the locals never liked the development. Several restaurants at the marina were built; condos, pool, lots and homes sold, and a golf course. The golf course was one of the top 6 in the world and hosted many tournaments with a world-class club house. Most of all in ruins now. During the Carter era things started deteriorating, bankruptcies, people stopped coming and spending money and now a nice place to be but nothing like the past.

The locals and the winter residents are very friendly.

We rented a golf cart to tour the island, had lunch at the Beach Club enjoying the scenery and people. We kept the golf cart over night to enable us to go to the nicest restaurants the island, Carriearl. It is a boutique hotel, restaurant and bar owed by folks from the UK.

The locals did not give it a very good review indicating it was expensive, fancy food with very small quantities. We listened to the boaters recommendations since the locals do not like competition from outsiders and like large quantities of fried conch and plantains.

We had one of the most enjoyable dinners we have had in quite awhile. It was located on the Atlantic side on the beach with a pool. It was open to the outside, laid back, friendly and top quality. The owners interacted with everyone and every staff member called you by name. First you are escorted to the lounge area overlooking the pool for cocktails and pate, the owners sit and chat, come back to explain the menu. No pressure to order. They take your order while you are sitting on the sofas socializing with other guests, and then ask what table you would like. They delivered our bottle of wine to that table and came for us when the food was there.

The owners are very interesting and fun as was the Americans that have been going to the island for years. So, we had a great anniversary and returned to the boat in the golf cart and had our special bottle of Chandom we saved for the occasion.

March 19

Anchored Bullock’s Harbor at Great Harbor Cay.

March 17 “ Happy Birthday Stephanie”

We said goodbye today for 10 days to the super friendly staff at Palm Cay and cruised on beautiful, flat water for 52 miles then anchored at Chub Cay in the Berry Islands. The cove was like a beautiful swimming pool.

As we pulled away from the dock, we were very surprised that the sea gate was still in place. We liked this marina because of the security but quite surprised it was still down at 8:30 am. After a 30 minute wait at the fuel dock, we were on the way.

During our stay, our friends Mike and Lori on Cheshire came in for a few days. We had a great time catching up at the Pizza/Jazz night at the restaurant. We sat by the pool overlooking the beach with a full moon, wine and a picture-perfect night.

Earlier in the day, we borrowed the loaner car at the marine and we all four went to the store. Cindy pulled the short straw and not only had to drive on the wrong side of the road, the wheel was on the wrong side! We did arrive back safely.

We had a fantastic trip to Mexico and loved the 5 star resort and restaurants. We enjoyed Alia and Kira and got to swim and play with them every day. We stayed in the Grand Luxxe in Puerto Nuevo.

Since we hadn’t been on a boat for 3 days, we all went on a boat day trip to a fun area about 30 miles from the resort with diving, snorkeling, kayaking, paddle boarding, swimming at a nice beach, a zoo, lunch, drinks, cooking classes. It was a great day and we learned to make Paella, salsa, and guacamole. The crew on the boat even performed on the way back while exhausted Alia snoozed on a bed of towels. A humpback whale even decided to entertain and breached several times close to the boat. It was just amazing.

Amy, Sylvie, and Cindy were treated to a wonderful massage on Friday afternoon. The spa was beautiful with a peaceful, serene garden to relax in after the massage while drinking yummy cucumber water. That evening we all enjoyed the Mexican restaurant for dinner. Alia really enjoyed the hot chocolate and “donuts” dipped in chocolate for dessert.

The resort had pools everywhere, kid’s areas, beautiful beaches, lazy river, Mayan waterslide, walking paths and everything top notch. The girls got to release baby turtles into the ocean one evening at the research facility project at the resort to help the babies get back to the ocean. After some help from the staff of waving off the birds of prey and carrying the turtles to the water, they all made it. Soon after the release, we enjoyed a great sunset on the beach. We had a late birthday celebration for Kira’s 2nd birthday which was 2/25.

The week went by much too fast and we were sad saying goodbye to the family. After an overnight in Dallas on the return, we made it back to Nassau and the boat that survived in our absence.

March 5

Palm Cay Marina, Nassau

We arrived at the beautiful, upscale marina early in the day and enjoyed the spectacular amenities. I have pictured the channel coming in, the pool, restaurant, and beach. It is probably the best and our favorite marina.

We will be flying out March 7 to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico meeting Matt, Amy, Alia, Kira, Bob, and Sylvie Bland. We are looking forward to seeing them at their timeshare. The boat will be staying at Palm Cay until our return on March 15.

March 4

Highbourne Cay

Anchored and took the dinghy into the marina restaurant/bar, Xuma. Since it is a private island and resort, they ask you to not go anywhere besides the store, restaurant, or fish cleaning station. We proceeded to the bar for a drink. The setting was spectacular overlooking the Exuma Sound, watching the sunset, and talking to a very nice bartender. We enjoyed our $7 drafts in the beautiful opened air bar then returned to the boat.

March 3

Norman’s Cay

We walked around the island to see the remains of the drug empire, saw a sunken plane but couldn’t snorkel because of the winds. They are in the process of building a marina and facilities.

February 28, March 1, 2

Shroud Cay Mooring. Another beautiful anchorage in the Park. This island has many mangrove areas to explore. We took the dinghy up one of the creeks to the eastern shore. There is a very small sandbar to leave the dinghy and then you are on an almost private gorgeous ocean beach. We hiked up to Camp Lookout which was occupied by a boater in the 60’s that had his boat in the lagoon, camping on the hill with an amazing view.

This location was also used in the late 70's and early 80's to spy on Carlos Lehder, the Colombian drug lord currently imprisoned in the US, having been co-founder of the Medellin Cartel running his cocaine operations out of Norman’s Cay. He began buying up land on the Cay that had a marina, yacht club, 100 homes, and an airstrip, harassing and threatening the residents; at one point a yacht as found drifting off the coast with a body on board.

He built a 3,300 foot runway protected by radar, bodyguards and Dobermans to protect him and his billion dollar empire.

The movie Blow as based on Carlos and was filmed on the island.

February 27

Hawksbill Mooring

Exumas Park and absolutely beautiful with gorgeous, stunning beaches. We hiked to Loyalist ruins.

February 26

Cambridge Cay mooring.

The winds prohibited us from anchoring where we wanted so we ended up on a mooring again. We tried to snorkel Rocky Dundas and to visit Compass Cay but the winds and seas were just not cooperating.

February 24, 25 (Happy 2nd birthday Kira)

Big Majors — Bay of Pigs

Anchored again off the pig beach, rode the dinghy around, had a drink at Staniel Yacht Club, and waited for the plane to arrive. It arrived as scheduled and our parts were aboard. Curt was able to repair the windlass easily and all the parts actually went together correctly. It is a huge relief to know we can depend on the windlass again.

We went to the Pirate Beach for sunset, cocktails and met many boaters. It is a great beach that boaters have made donating such as picnic tables, mooring lines, signs, etc. It was fun until the sun starting going down and the bugs arrived.

We miss our travel buddies but will catch up with them in April. They are enjoying themselves snorkeling and fishing in small islands north of Georgetown.

February 22, 23

Little Farmers Cay
 We decided to leave Cave Cay while Coral Bay and Spring Day stayed another day. Coral Bay and Spring Day went to Little Farmers in the dinghy and helped us get on a mooring in a very strong current with opposing winds on a mooring that had no pennant line. Without a pennant line the line from the boat needs to go through the loop on the ball which is virtually impossible for us with our height from the water.

The mooring is from Little Farmers Yacht Club which was closed so Ocean Cabin handled the reservation, instructions, and payment. They gave us incorrect directions on three occasions and we were very glad we had the dinghy running around checking things out. We then went in to pay, have a drink and lunch but left after several of us did not have a good experience.

So, we enjoyed our lunch and drinks at Ty’s Sunset Beach on the west side of the island with a beautiful beach. It is on the runway and was fun when a plane landed and left again. Instead of having a wind sock, they use a shirt so, they have a wind shirt.

As we returned to the boat, we were not satisfied with the mooring or the condition so we dropped it, took our chances our windlass would work a few more times and anchored off the Sunset Bar. We had a beautiful sunset and a nice pleasant evening.

February 18, 19, 20, 21

At Cave Cay, Safe Harbor. The marina was full so we had a good time with other boaters. Huge cocktail party the first night on one of the boats and two movie nights on Spring Day. We hiked on the island and snorkeled. One of the caretakers of the island took most of us that (22) on a hike over the hill to the other side of the island. It was a beautiful walk. The landscape beautiful, very dry and cacti plentiful. The terrain is rough limestone which makes walking a challenge at times. We explored a cave formation with 3 adjoining caves. It was spectacular. A gentleman from Farmers Cay, 6 miles north, came and demonstrated and sold conch salad. He did it on Spring Day and made a regular and a tropical. That was fun and interesting to gain local knowledge.

We have developed another mechanical issue which is going to be a problem as we leave. Our windless, the motor that lowers and raises the anchor needs repaired. The parts are being flown from US to Staniel Cay, hopefully by the end of the week. We really don’t want to see that bill! We thought everything on this boat was in tip top shape but we really have had issues. Coral Bay has had several issues too so we are both glad we are traveling together to help out and glad Spring Day to help too.

February 17

Leaving Georgetown to outrun a huge cold front coming tomorrow. We are heading north to Cave Cay Marina where we weathered the last blow. It is 42 miles north of Georgetown. It is expensive but very safe. We will be here for at least 6 nights. Coral Bay and Spring Day are behind us. Steve and Linda’s friends on Spring Day, a 78' Nordhaven, arrived a few days ago and it has been pleasant getting to know them.

Curt had a big day — his first successful fishing attempt, catching a Maui-Maui, probably 25#. It was so fun. Blackened Maui on the grill tonight.

The temperature is 80 degrees, the water is warm and very comfortable for snorkeling, and the winds are the only issue. They keep assuring us this is unusual and they will be less frequent soon.

We experienced the grocery store yesterday as the boat came and brought fresh produce. It was totally nuts and chaotic. We were able to get a few things since Cave Cay has nothing except the fresh veggies they grown and let everyone enjoy.

We then took the dinghies over to Volleyball Beach, had a beer and fresh conch salad made fresh in front of us. It is fascinating watching them clean conch. There are literally millions in these waters. The salads are excellent.

Then we were entertained by the beginning of the anchor dragging and boat shuffling preparing for the blow. It is absolutely insane and tempers were flaring. Apparently everyone wants to be as close to Volleyball Beach as possible so they anchor on top of each other, the wind shifts, and they start the dance. We were anchored ¾ mile off another beach to be out of the craziness. It worked for us.

February 15

Hooray! We sold our new 100# anchor (the one that we could not get refitted for our pulpit). We are happy to get it off the deck and happy that someone whose anchor was damaged is now back in business. Their anchor was severely damaged in the blow the night we were so uncomfortable.

We played bocce on the beach with Steve and Linda and attempted to watch the sunset but the clouds interfered.

February 13, 14

Yesterday was spent checking out the area with Steve and Linda. We had a surprise visit from Evie and Jack on another LRC that we have met several times and Steve and Linda ran into friends they had met several years ago in the Abacos in the grocery store. I have pictured our view last night of the harbor and the yacht that anchored next to us while we were gone. She is a beautiful yacht, anchored rather close, and played very loud music until 4 am. All part of the experience.

Every morning there are announcements about fund raisers, volunteer opportunities, volleyball, Texas hold’en, trivia, bridge, seminars, you name it and it is happening at “volleyball beach”.Also there is a bar; Chat ‘n Chill at the beach. It feels like a cruise ship with everything going on.

It is very interesting to find the dinghy dock for town on the opposite side of the harbor. It is located in a lake off the harbor, entering through a small one-way bridge with very strong currents.

We are going to explore some more today and maybe play some Bocce Ball on the beach.

February 12

Georgetown

We had another one-day weather window so continued south. As we left the inlet from Cave Cay we passed Musher Island, owned by David Copperfield. I have pictured his beautiful home on the hill with the boulders and Atlantic in front of the island. He owns that island and the next two to the south.

We had heard Georgetown is a cruisers destination but were still shocked at the hundreds of boats anchored. Both boats tried to anchor at the poplar Monument Beach but were not happy trying to squeeze in between the other boats. We continued south anchoring at Sand Dollar Beach. We enjoyed our dinghy visitor, Gordon, and we pleased to find out the three boat friends from Bimini and Warderick were anchored around us. It is so fun to run into them again and amazing with all these boats they are next to us.

We will be staying in Georgetown until sometime next week.

February 8, 9, 10, 11

Black Point, Great Guana Cay & Cave Cay

Black Point is a wonderful example of the real out-islands experience and is the largest Cay (pronounced key) in the Exumas.

We had a delicious lunch at DeShamon Restaurant of fresh Snapper sandwich, dinner at Lorraine’s of ribs, rice and beans and delicious rum punch, fresh, homemade bread made by Lorraine’s mother, homemade donuts by Ida.

Ida runs the launder mat, one of the nicest we have seen, rents rooms, has a grocery store, and makes amazing homemade cakes, donuts, and conch fritters.

Lorraine’s mother makes the bread in her home. It was so fun going to her house, knocking on the front door, she yelled to enter, walk back to the kitchen where she is baking dozens of loaves of bread. We tried the whole wheat and the coconut. We are anxious to try the coconut in Fresh Toast. We have heard it is amazing.

As we were walking around the island we talked to the very friendly residents and watched some folks weaving straw that will be sent to the Straw Market in Nassau and made into baskets. These people weave 12–14 hours a day.

We toured the island by dinghy and found some beautiful beaches and inlets. We walked on the beach with the iguanas as they came out looking for handouts.

We anchored off the laudermat’s dinghy dock the first night but with projected winds increasing with yet another week-long cold front with high westerly winds, we moved around the corner to what we hoped was a more protected anchorage. We had our own private beach and a castle to look for our view.

However, the night was a long, uncomfortable one. The winds increased and did not clock as anticipated so we had the wind and waves bearing down on us all night. We are still with Coral Bay and fortunately our anchors held. We were safe but miserable and stayed in touch with each other on the radio most of the night. The only person that slept was Curt which no one understands. It was a bad judgment call to stay there and we have learned a lot about the weather patterns in the Exumas. We decided the rainbow was a good sign in the morning and made the 17 lumpy miles for a safe harbor.

Unfortunately, another boater was not as lucky as we listened to the heartbreaking calls for help as they were blown to the shore. We listened to them all night, first calling for assistance, and then a Mayday and finally a Pan Pan which means their lives were in danger. Another boater responded in his dinghy but with gale force winds, a very dark night, and a squall they were not able to assist. The owners did stay with the boat even though it was aground, taking on water.

As we moved to a safe harbor in the morning we observed their 55' sloop on the beach. A very very sad situation. We heard them on the radio the next day trying to obtain pumps to remove the water.

They did find a Salvage company that floated the boat with inflation devices, provided several pumps, and towed the boat into the save harbor where we were. We observed the in-the-water patches for the numerous holes in the haul. Steve put on his diving gear to observe and ended up helping. We met the couple putting faces to the frantic voices we listened to all night. Another cruiser invited them to sleep on their boat because everything they owned was wet. Next they need to get their engine (only a few months old) running so they can move the boat to get it hauled. These folks are from England and experienced cruisers who have sailed the world.

We enjoyed our two days in the safe marina, Cave Cay. It is a private island with a few homes, beautiful beaches, and views, and nice people. The marina is a natural hurricane hole and even though expensive, we were happy to be there.

Cave Cay has a tremendous garden used to feed the folks on the island and the cruisers are invited to take what they like. We enjoyed fresh beans, tomatoes, limes, and papaya (pictured retrieving them).

The island has four resident German Shepherds, one that joined us for a few hours on our tour of the island. The only thing we needed to do was continually throw his coconut so we could retrieve and drop back on our feet. He was an awesome dog but our arms were sore.

A float plane landed on their 2,800' airstrip, offloaded supplies, and two people left in a boat. They were headed for Goat Cay owned by Faith Hill and Tim McGraw. They were preparing for their arrival in the next few days.

February 4, 5, 6, 7

Arrived at Big Majors and anchored off the beach of the famous swimming pigs. I have pictured the pigs greeting as they swim up to the dinghy for food. It is very fun but they were aggressive and some of them are huge. We fed them and then came back later in the day when a lot of people and kids were there and they had calmed down so we walked around them and got some pictures of some of the piglets.

We are just around the point from Staniel Cay so we have been there several times. Staniel Cay Yacht Club has a great bar, we rented a golf cart to see the island and snorkeled several places. When we were having a drink at the Yacht Club, a fishing charter arrived with several huge Wahoo. They were kind enough to give us 4 giant steaks which we all enjoyed for dinner. I have pictured the nurse sharks around the yacht club waiting for the fish cleaning and scraps. When we arrived by dinghy, they were hanging around the harbor for food. They apparently are harmless (for the most part) but still very intimidating. We were walking around the dinghy with them swimming nearby and Curt had to dive the anchor to check it with a huge one staring at him.

The Blue Grocery Store was fun — it is very small but had some fresh veggies and yummy fresh baked coconut bread. We were all in the mood for ice cream but could only find pint containers so each couple shared one. We didn’t have spoons so they charged us for 2 plastic spoons. The other grocery store was closed for the weekend; it was Friday morning and the bakery was closed to mid-week. There is one church on the island and a library which is the oldest house on the Cay. When we visited, a boater was presenting an educational video to the area children.

There is an airport here that service Miami and Nassau so many people come here to stay on Staniel Cay or the nearby all inclusive Fowl Key Resort. Steve is having a part flown in here from Florida. The waiting room is on a covered desk and your boarding pass is delivered to the Yacht Club.

Garbage disposal is a problem and the Sea and Land Park have no disposal. So when we arrived we both had a lot of garbage. We hauled it into Saniel and were charged $7.50 per bag to leave it! Luckily, we had consolidated all of ours into a large black trash bag.

The most amazing thing we have done thus far is to snorkel at the renowned Thunderball Grotto, an amazing sky lit underwater cave featured in several Hollywood films (James Bond). It was absolutely spectacular. We all enjoyed it so much, we will return before we leave.

Once again we are weathered in. The weather forecaster said this has been the worse winter in 5 years for fronts. We arrived Wednesday and will be leaving Monday. Unfortunately, we will have one day before the next front arrives. The anchorage at Big Majors is not conducive for westerly winds nor is the next place on our list, Black Point. So it appears that we will have to backtrack to Cambridge for two nights before we can continue to Black Point on Great Guana Cay.

February 2

After eight days in Warderick Wells, the weather calmed and the entire mooring field cleared out. Coral Bay and Classic Cyn went to Cambridge Cay, still part of Exuma Park, and picked up a mooring for two nights. We snorkeled in the “aquarium” and a sunken plane, rode around Johnny Depp’s island in the dinghy, then enjoyed cocktails and sunset on the beach with Steve and Linda after taking a walk over the island to the ocean to observe the rock formations.

Johnny was having his island and famous beaches decorated to celebrate his marriage to Amber Head, married in LA in a civil ceremony on 2/3 then celebrating here with friends and family at the island. We watched a fuel barge at his property delivering some type of fuel and also observed several boxes delivered to one of the beaches. They were decorating one beach with white flowing material and had tents set up, each with their own air conditioning unit. (Maybe guests have to rough it in luxurious tents). The only thing we could see was the top of a house and numerous beaches with cabanas and chairs.

We visited Chicken Key and saw a plane that missed the runway and went into the water and then was towed back onto shore where it sits.

January 31

Our part delivery arrived yesterday and did not solve the problem so we are going to have to live with one head. In addition, our new batteries are not holding a charge and the small generator shut down. Curt is very frustrated and there is no service yards.

After working on the boat all day, we joined friends on the beach for a cocktail hour. I have pictures posted of a fun evening meeting new folks, catching up with other friends, watching the sun go down, and getting to see the Hutia coming out to join us. I have pictured some of them looking for handouts. Steve and Linda joined us on Classic Cyn for dinner.

Tonight is a Park sponsored Cocktail Party on the same beach. The moorings stay full and with a waiting list so there are many people coming and going.

January 30

Cindy snorkeled then we took lunch and a bottle of wine to the beach and talked some of the other folks here. The 3 boats we met in Bimini showed up so we jumped in the dinghy and helped them on their mooring since the current is so wicked. Coral Bay arrived at 5 pm with our part. Before they all arrived, we were almost the only boat flying the Stars and Stripes. We will be staying here for awhile before we continue south.

January 29

We were able to talk to Steve and Linda yesterday via satellite phone at the park office to confirm their reservation here at Warderick Wells today.

Fortunately, Curt talked to Steve in enough time for Steve to get to a marine store in Nassau for our new issue/problem.

We spent yesterday afternoon attempting to fix one of our heads (nautical for toilet). We are glad we have two since we need 8 feet of special hose and new clamps. We carry many spare parts to run this little city but no sewage hose. All of you that know Curt and his gag reflex can just image his day working where he did. Cindy pitched in to get it over with.

Hoping Steve was able to locate the parts in Nassau.

To quote Jimmy Buffett…”it’s just another shitty day in paradise”.

January 25, 26, 27, 28

Warderick Wells

We had a lovely day cruising 60 miles to Warderick Wells. The Land and Sea Park operates three mooring fields, two protected from the approaching front with westerly winds in the 30+ knot range. We were on the waiting list for the north field (best protection) with many in front of us. We were very fortunate to get into the north field since boats did not leave and the ones in front of us on the list were groups of numerous boats. We have been very comfortable while folks in the other fields have not slept.

It is absolutely magical with its breath taking beauty, transparent turquoise water with natural gardens of coral filled with fish and lobster. The Park was established to protect the unique marine ecosystem of the Exuma Cays, a chain of islands known for their beautiful shallow reefs, mangrove tidal creeks and tropical vegetation. The conch, spiny lobster, and grouper flourish along with birdlife, endangered iguanas and the once thought to be extinct native mammal, the Hutia (looks like a guinea pig). Because of the conservation in this area, no anchoring is allowed to protect the reefs. The entire park is 100,000 acre no take marine zone. By protecting the wildlife in the Park the entire area has benefited as tagged fish, conch, and lobster have made their way too many islands not in the park.

We hope to enjoy the many snorkeling areas as the winds die. The current is very strong combined with the high winds, snorkeling has not been ideal. When we arrived, we saw two nurse sharks checking out the boat or maybe it was a greeting from the park.

We hiked the famed BooBoo Hill for spectacular views and interesting terrain. I have pictured the unique rock, the creek beds where mangrove roots are taking hold, the forest area with the dead vegetation. All the brown, dead vegetation is from the eating habits of the endangered Hutia. The little creatures are doing all this damage to the island’s vegetation. We hiked a long distance through this area and never saw one of the little guys. They are nocturnal but sometimes they do scurry around during the day. Apparently there are thousands on this island so not endangered here. At least this is better than the rat infestation on the Dry Tortugas. I have pictured a cave we found in this area that was large and interesting.

BooBoo Hill is an interesting place to leave something made of wood with your boat name. We were not prepared but will do better next time with a sign that will last.

Legend is that during a full moon, you can hear the souls that were lost in a ship wreck singing and chanting; bodies were never found, so they want a proper burial.

Our timing was off for the blow hole because it was low tide.

Around the ranger station and living quarters are several very nice beaches. Saturday nights are cocktail parties in the Tiki Hut on Skelton Beach where they have just run electricity to the hut. This keeps the Hutia from joining the party.

We meet a couple that is here volunteering. For each day worked, you receive a free mooring which we would like to do on a future trip. He just ran the electricity and upgraded the generator for the island and she made new tops for the park boats. We joined the Friends of the Parks to help support this amazing area.

Skelton Beach is so named because of the whale skeleton that washed ashore near here and is displayed. Sadly, it died because of a garbage bag. We picked up several pieces of plastic on our hike to try to keep the animals protected. As we were cruising the other day, we saw an inflated balloon floating but sadly could not get to it. The release of balloons may be fun but can danger many creatures.

The only cell service on the island is at the top of BooBoo Hill since there is no tower on this island and it was not great. We purchased Internet for $15 that is good for one computer for 24 hours or 100 MB of data, whichever comes first. Skype, Vonage, Social media, streaming audio and video have been blocked so we are hoping this update can be uploaded.

We are hoping to have Coral Bay join us before we leave in the next day or so.

January 24

Nassau

Since the marina in Nassau did not have internet, we had to walk across the street to Starbuck. We did that several times a day. We decided to walk towards town with Steve and Linda for a late lunch with a recommendation for the best local establishment, Twin Brothers. We had a great lunch as we watched the young man cleaning conch and making fresh conch salad just next to our table. It was great entertainment. I have pictured some of the area which was certainly a little intimidating especially with the crime in Nassau. However, we strolled around, talked to some locals and had a great afternoon.

The Harbor is very busy as you can see the 7 cruise ships in the background. I guess that is the reason you are required to ask permission from the Harbor Control to enter and exit the harbor. They need boat number, hailing port, last port, and destination. Very interesting.

The ever-changing weather in the Bahamas makes it a challenge to make plans. We spent January 22 on anchor in West Bay on the far western part of New Providence Island. We separated from Coral Bay as they headed to Nassau for emergency service on their water maker. We were to meet them in a few days in Highbourne. However, we ended up with them in a marina in Nassau on January 23 & 24 because a front coming in.

To get out of harm’s way from the next front, our plans are to leave tomorrow head to Warderick Wells which is part of the Exuma Cays Land and Park. There are moorings in the park so we will be protected from the winds and looking forward to several days enjoying the beautiful snorkeling and hiking. Sadly, Coral Bay is not ready to leave so we will see them as soon as the repairs are completed.

January 21

After a week in Bimini, we were glad to be on the move as we bid goodbye.

We ran 72 miles in open water as there was no land in sight crossing the banks heading due east. The weather was perfect, no wind and flat seas. We could see the bottom in 25' of water. Pictured is the beautiful water and Coral Bay in front of us. We anchored out in the middle of the banks near shoals for protection.

The day before we left Bimini, we saw the bull sharks that frequent the harbor with the rays, tarpon, Sergeant Majors, and other fish. The bull sharks were very intimidating but glad we were able to see them.

We went back to the Dolphin House and purchased two of Ashley’s books about the history of Bimini.

January 20

Linda and Steve arrived safely on Sunday. It was great to catch up with them. Our other new friends left today as the weather is starting to break. We like the forecast better for tomorrow and will be leaving at first light with Coral Bay. We will anchor tomorrow night off the Berry Islands, Thursday, west side of Nassau, and Friday will be in Highbourne.

We had a relaxing day yesterday with lunch at CJ’s on the beach then visited The Dolphin House. It is a very unusual, interesting, eclectic hotel/museum that Ashley Saunders has built from the ground up by himself. He started in 1993 on the land his grandfather purchased when he arrived here from Scotland in late 1700's and where Ashley was born. The house is built from recycled materials with a solid concrete structure that will withstand any hurricane. The walls are covered in mosaics composed of colorful tiles, shells, bottles, coins, and other items he has collected. He told us he was swimming with the dolphins when they communicated with him and enlightened him about his talents as an artist. This prompted him to start building the house. He has won many awards and written several books. A quite interesting man and work of art he has created.

We encountered a slight problem with Customs which is not something you want to do. We stopped by because Curt did not add a lobster permit to our fishing license. We did that with no problem and then we made the mistake of asking a question. We read that guns are required to be taken to the police station if you leave the country and reclaimed when returning. Since we are flying to Mexico in March, we wanted to make sure we were doing everything by the book.

The Customs man asked if our gun and ammunition was inspected the day we cleared and we told him no and that no one asked. So, he put Curt in his car, went to the boat, and inspected the gun. Firearms are to be kept at time in a locked, secure location which seems a little crazy. We did not have it locked and also had two less shells than we reported. That is not good. He wanted to know where the shells were. Luckily, he was a very nice man, redid our paperwork with the proper rounds, and told us to lock the gun. We will count better next time.

In the end, it was probably a good thing because he told us that had we been stopped out with missing rounds, the boat would be towed to Nassau where the interrogation would begin. So, we dodged that bullet! Pictured below are Curt and Customs man. Cindy stayed back with Steve and Linda and had a beer figuring no sense everyone getting locked up.

Back to the dock for Happy Hour to bid farewell for now to the others leaving.

January 18

We found out today that our friends on Coral Bay, Steve and Linda, are on the way. We are excited to see them sometime today.

We are able to watch the games here at the marina today.

The weather is improving and we may able to leave tomorrow or Tuesday.

January 17

Cindy is feeling much better and slept all night. All the other boaters walked to the laundry since they are on sailboats and do not have a washer/dryer. We did ours on the boat and met them for lunch. While we were walking around, one couple stopped at a little shop that actually had SIM cards! They had them flown in from Freeport. The phone company still does not have them. So, we have our phone! Ironically, the SIM card fit and works on Curt’s new Droid so we did not have to purchase a phone. From all our research we thought a Verizon product would not work here but it worked with the local SIM card. Lucky for us the phone company did not have cards or we would have purchased a phone.

We brought our lunch of conch salad and conch chowder back to the marina and played games all afternoon.

We watched the locals clean their catch of the day of conch and lobster. We purchased 12 lobsters and enjoyed some for dinner.

January 16

We still have the golf cart so we returned to the phone company and hoped for the best. If the cards are not here, we will probably go to Nassau to get them. The other boats will all be going too. However, it looks like we are stuck here for a week because of weather and cards were not here.

I have pictured the largest grocery store on the island after the boat arrived with all the boxes out front. People flock to the store as they were out of all fruits and vegetables, even onions.

Cindy still was not completely over the sinus infection she has had since Christmas and we thought it had gone into Bronchitis. Even though one of our new friends was an ER doc, we decided to go to the local clinic while we still had the golf cart. There is one medical facility on the island, the clinic with no doctors and one PA.

She walked in, filled out one piece of paper, did not sit, and was taken back and examined. It was the sinus infection still hanging on. She was given a breathing treatment, 2 meds (dispensed at the clinic) and we were on our way. The total bill was $50.

January 15

We meet all the other boaters that arrived when we did, only one had been before. We had so much fun hanging out and getting to know them. Six of us rented a golf cart and explored the island, drank beer, and just had a delightful day. We had breakfast of delicious Bimini Bread at the bakery and lunch at the little shack on the beach, visited the local museum, and drove to the north end of the island to check out the casino and development.

When we got back to the marina, we all met up with all the other folks at the nice gathering area at the marina for drinks and apps.

We also all went to the phone company to get our Bahamian cell phones. However, they are out of SIM cards and have been for a month. They are hoping they will arrive on the boat today since the boat only comes every 2 weeks. Welcome to the Bahamas, mon.

January 14

Alice Town, Bimini, Bahamas

We made it after a ten hour crossing. We left Rodriguez Key at 4 am with a beautiful half moon shining in the water, bright stars, 68 degrees, and calm seas.

The first six hours of the trip was great then the winds started picking up. The last several hours were unpleasant but not scary. We had 5–7' confused seas that were coming frequently.

We meet 7 other boats that came in that day and they were all amazed about how fast the weather changed and how the weather window kept closing.

Boaters are required to fly a yellow quarantine flag (pictured) to indicate you have not cleared customs. As soon you as clear, then you fly a courtesy flag of the country you are visiting (pictured).

Only Curt went to Customs as the Captain must go and clear for everyone on board. After that, we went to the Tiki bar next to the marina for some run drinks and dinner.

Fall 2014

January 12

Today, we say goodbye to Key West heading east up the keys. Tonight we will anchor in Long Key, tomorrow in Rodrigeuz Key. The winds are still up in the Keys but we have one day to make our crossing into Bimini on Wednesday, January 14. If we do not cross then, it will be 10 days or so. We will most likely be “weathered” in Bimini for several days but we are good with that. We hope to be able to make a post in a few days.

We are sorry for the 6 weeks delay in updating the site. Our computer keyboard stopped working shortly after the last post the end of November.

It is a long, painful story but we finally have our keyboard back and working. I won’t bore you with the details.

January 9

Well, we are still in Key West. Our lives are centered on the weather and the next week is not good for our Bahamian crossing. We need to pay close to attention to the wind velocity, direction, wave heights and direction. With high winds and waves predicted we decided to stay tied to the dock for a few extra days. We will make a post before we set off and will probably not be in touch as frequently. We will be putting our Verizon cell phones to sleep and obtaining a Bahamian cell phone upon our arrival. We hope to have a data plan so we can still be in touch. We will probably have more text minutes than talking with the plan.

We will be making the crossing from Rodriguez Key east of Key Largo, crossing the Gulf Stream in the Atlantic to Bimini.

The Gulf Stream is actually a river in the Atlantic that runs north at approximately 3 knots. Since we are a slow trawler, we need to be very careful to use the proper wind direction to give us an added boost as we make the crossing.

Basically, north winds are a negative because the waves build substantially against the northerly current. We are waiting for southeast winds, turning to south, then clocking again to south, southwest. We knew this would be a waiting game and as planned, we taking all the needed precautions.

Since we both are not 100% after being sick during the holidays, it is probably a good thing. We went to the doctor again here and got some more drugs. We think it is helping.

January 2

We rented a car for the weekend to complete our many errands and last minute provisioning for our Bahamas crossing. Posted is a picture of Cindy’s new haircut done by a Drag Queen! We just love this place. Our planned date to leave Key West is January 5. We are excited, apprehensive, tentative, and optimistic. While we had the car, we drove to Marathon to visit our friends on Sunnyside and to check out the marina there, Boot Key Harbor. We had a fun day with Conrad and Terri; drove around, went to lunch, then took them to the grocery store. Went to Burdines and No Name Bar.

January 1

We made a sunscreen for our aft cockpit that we are very pleased with the finished product. We borrowed a sewing machine, purchased a snap tool, and went to work. It is going to be a very nice addition to the boat.

December 31

Returning to Key West and the heat helped us feel much better as we are recuperating. Sadly, we missed New Year’s Eve in one of the top destinations to bring in the New Year. We went out for awhile and just couldn’t do it.

December 28

Returned to Cincinnati, Stephanie with a Sinus Infection and Bronchitis, Curt, Cindy and Adam not feeling well. Adam was able to fight it off but Curt and Cindy had to go to Urgent Care for Sinus Infections. The flight back to Key West was miserable.

December 19

We flew from Key West to Cincinnati, Cindy had some doctors appointments, and then on December 21 Stephanie, Adam, Jack, Curt, and Cindy flew to Seattle for a week.

We had a wonderful Griswold Christmas. Clark (aka Matt) organized the fun, hectic “Christmas Vacation”. We had a total of 16 including Amy’s parents, sisters, brother-in-law, and nephews from LA (pictured).

Clark was even written up in the local paper for his extraordinary decorating skills including Bumble on top of the house. Check out the link:

http://www.seattlegreenlaker.com/2014/green-lakes-holiday-lights-2014/

Clark’s house is the one on Green Lake Way North.

The house was also beautifully decorated inside and the kids had a great, fun Christmas. We had several illnesses passed around but still had a great time.

We had many organized outings such as family biking north of Seattle, excursion to Pike Place Market where we shopped and enjoyed sourdough bread bowls outside at the market, saw the downtown Christmas lights, and visited the Gingerbread House competition.

Matt, Adam, and Jack had a great day skiing on Mt. Rainer and Jack was able to use his new Christmas gift, a ski helmet, from Uncle Dude and Aunt Amy. Jack was excited to use another new Christmas present, a GoPro.

We managed to all get to mass on Christmas Eve and were even seated, then returned home to a Mexican dinner.

December 14

We were invited to Bill and Vickie’s home, the couple we met in Key West last year, for their Tacky Christmas Sweater Party.We had a great time and enjoyed meeting their friends and neighbors.

We have also visited many of the local Stock Island bars and restaurants with the marina folks, rode bikes, and hung around downtown. The weather has been fantastic, people friendly, just an all around great place.

December 12

We spent the week riding our bikes all over Key West for Dermatology appointments, eye doctors, interview with Border Patrol to obtain our Small Vessel Reporting clearance, and Christmas shopping.

December 6

We were very excited for Mac McAnally’s concert today and the Coconut Telegraph rumors Jimmy would show up. He was in town as he and Mac recorded in Jimmy’s downtown Key West Studio on Friday.

We arrived at 1 pm for the 2 pm sound check with bar seats that were the closest to the stage. Ironically, we did not have to pay for the seats or a cover charge and others paid $200 to reserve tables! Friends we met from the marina sat with us and sold their table tickets since we had better seats. We never did understand what was going on but happy for whatever the reason.

We enjoyed talking to Mac, meeting Eric Darken, Buffet’s Percussionist, meeting some boaters from our marina and just having a wonderful time. Mac did not do sound checks until 3 pm which lasted about an hour, then a local singer performed for a few hours, and finally at 8 pm, Mac was on stage and played until 10 pm. It was a long, fun day.

Curt talked to Eric for a long time and he was fascinated with our lifestyle and actually wanted to learn more about what we do.

At 11 pm, we got into the dinghy and motored across the inlet to our boat. Quite an amazing, memorable day even though Jimmy did not show.

December 5

Dropped the mooring on the north side of the island and moved to Stock Island which is on the south side. It is a lovely, newly renovated marina. We have met many great boaters that also call their boats home.

December 4

Explored on our bikes and rode them 5 miles to the marina that will be home for the next month; Stock Island Village Marina. We stopped on our way at another favorite, Hogfish, for lunch to discover that Mac McAnally would be performing there Saturday. Mac is a talented singer-songwriter, record producer and a member of Buffet’s Coral Reefers Bank. He has composed songs for Kenny Chesney, Sawyer Brown, Restless Heart, and of course, many for Buffet.

We inquired about tickets or purchasing a table but they had not decided how they were handling the event. Mac is a friend of the owner and plays there each year. They do not advertise but word gets around via“ the Coconut Telegraph. The manager graciously returned our call to advise us to arrive early and we would be good to go.

We left our bikes at the marina and returned to the boat by city bus.

December 3

Key West! We picked up a mooring downtown Key West, went ashore, purchased bikes, walked around, and enjoyed several of or favorite bars. So happy to be back and it feels like home.

December 2

Anchored off Little Torch Key with a stunning Keys sunset looking out towards Cuba.

December 1

Anchored in the Little Shark River in the Everglades.

November 30

Everglades City, Historic Rod and Gun Club.

It was a beautiful ride up the Barron River into Everglades City on the boundary of Everglades National Park with lush plants, birds and a fascinating ecosystem.

The Club was built in 1922, catered to many famous, notable guests, and was operated as a private establishment. The atmosphere of the club still exudes from the dark brown wood, cypress dining room, mounted grouper and tarpon trophies, deer and gator skins, a huge screened front porch with wicker furniture situated on the river, and a lovely pool.

We were able to tie up at the sea wall directly in front of the Club, enjoyed a great seafood platter dinner, a walk around Everglades City, and the company of another fun live-aboard couple. We made plans to meet them in Key West for New Years.

November 29
 Traveling south in the Gulf of Mexico heading to the Keys. I have posted a picture of poor quality because it was such a cool concept. It is a floating convenience store. What an idea!

November 21–28
 Ft. Myers

We were glad to reach Ft. Myers as the crossing of the Okeechobee was cold, rainy, rough, and windy. The wind was problematic in two of the five locks.

We arrived in Ft. Myers just one day after we had planned and had a wonderful visit with Cindy’s cousin, Debbie and Myron Parrish and old friends Helen and Dave Barrington.

We had dinner two times at Debbie and Myron’s home went out to Joe’s Crab Shack, Curt and Myron enjoyed a Sunday football afternoon while Cindy and Debbie went to the Edison & Ford Winter Estates and then shopping. It was great spending time with them again.

I had not realized that Thomas Edison, Henry Ford and Harvey Firestone were best friends. In 1927, obviously, ahead of their time with concerns about America’s dependence on foreign sources for rubber, they formed the Edison Botanic Research Corporation (EBRC). Under Edison’s leadership and after testing 17,000 plant samples, Edison discovered a source in the plant Goldenrod which was grown in Ft. Myers. The plant samples were all grown and cultivated on the estate. Ironically, he had several species of rubber tree shipped from India and discovered the source locally.

The lab was operational five years after Edison’s death when the project was transferred to the US Dept of Agriculture. The layout of the lab, still intact, contains a very impressive chemical processing area, machine shop, grinding room, office and dark room.

The 21 acres of historic tropical landscape on the Caloosahatchee River in downtown Ft. Myers is a paradise. The Edison’s spent more time at the estate than Ford, their home is larger than the Ford home, and Firestone did not own a home on the estate. The grounds contain several types of Banyan trees, some the largest in the continental US, many varieties of bamboo trees (used for filaments for the light bulb), mango trees, orchids from all over the world, figs, a mile and a half of royal palms, exotic plants, and a “Truck Garden”. The “Truck Garden” is an edible garden used to feed the owners and staff at the estates but also loaded on a truck and sold to support the expenses of this immense estate. There are 75 varieties of vegetables in the garden. Mrs. Edison loved roses and had a lily pond with specific plants that reflected the moonlight.

The pool complex was one of the first residential pools in Florida and consists of a large pool with two diving boards, a tea house and a large bath house. The 1,500 foot pier was used to receive materials that were shipped.

We borrowed Dave’s truck for several days to begin provisioning for the Bahamas. Amazingly, the boat is still floating even after buying out two Targets of box wine and purchasing 25 quarts of oil of two oil changes.

We spent three nights at the Barrington’s, a nice change. We had a lovely dinner out for Helen’s birthday, enjoyed meeting some of their friends, and had a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner. It was awesome to spend another Thanksgiving with them, catching up with families, reminiscing, meeting their friends, and chilling out on dry land.

November 20

Moor Haven City Docks. We walked downtown to an authentic Mexican restaurant which was delicious. It was fortunate it was highly recommended on some of our boating sites because we probably would not have gone in by the looks of the outside.

November 18, 19

Indiantown Marina

By staying an additional day, we were extremely pleased the marina was able to repair the dinghy motor since they were busy and backed up for several weeks. Curt was sick and in bed the entire day so it worked out quite well that we did not need to move for an extra day.

November 17

We started calling around for service on the dinghy outboard with no luck in Vero Beach. We called a few other places down the coast and found that Indiantown Marina on the Okeechobee Waterway services outboard motors. We already had reservations there for November 18. Hopefully, it can be fixed in a reasonable time as we have plans to be in Ft. Myers for Thanksgiving. We will be there with or without the boat but sure hoping the dinghy can be fixed in a few days.

Ironically, this is the same problem we had in September and had to go back to Wayfare Cove for repair.

We anchored in Stuart for the night.

November 16

As I was posting the section below on Vera Beach, Curt was working on the dinghy.

First thing on this beautiful morning, we took a dinghy ride through the mangroves. The water was like glass and we had a great ride. We only saw one dolphin and a few birds but a nice ride.

When we returned, we had a big breakfast then Cindy was going to take the dinghy to shore. It tried to start then died. Curt worked on it for several hours with no luck.

So, we really wanted to see the Panthers game so we got the kayaks back down and kayaked to the Sports Bar. Unfortunately, the shore was lined with rocks and the docks were too high for us to get out of the kayaks. So, we went back to the marina, hauled out the kayaks, and then walked a mile to the bar.

After several beers, seeing the Panthers lose, we walked back to the marina, got into the kayaks and returned to the big boats. As Cindy was trying to get out of the kayak, something went wrong and in she went. The water was warm enough but the purse was soaked. We were pleased that we had several things (like the phone) in a dry bag. For some reason, there was water in the bag but the phone did survive.

She had enough time to get changed when Rickshaw arrived and rafted us with on the mooring ball. It was so much fun seeing them again and spending the evening with them right next to us. The last two times we have seen them, we keep saying “see you in the Bahamas” but our paths keep crossing.

They have reservations in Indiantown, we should be gone but you just never know how efficient the service department will be.

November 13, 14, 15, 16, 2014

Vero Beach City Moorings.

It was a lovely cruise with dozens of dolphins playing in the ICW and around the boat. They would come up to the boat, surface, slap their tails as if to tell us they were there, then ride our bow wake. Two gals rode with us for over 20 minutes. We enjoyed seeing the dolphins at Marineland but it is so amazing to watch them in the wild. They love to show off for humans and even get eye contact. Just so incredible!

We have seen a few manatees but not many. They should be moving south by now so maybe they are ahead of us.

Back in Vero Beach, a very boater friendly community and very nice moorings in the mangroves. The city offers free bus service all over town with a stop pick up at the marina.

Every Thursday night is Happy Hour in the pavilion where everyone brings their own drinks and an appetizer. It was great fun and we meet a lot of people – most heading to either the Bahamas or Keys. We look forward to running into them again.

On Friday, we took the bus to the dive shop, West Marine, Publix, and Cindy’s haircut. We had to return on Saturday since Cindy forgot her earrings at the shop so we went to the Dollar Store before the bus returned.

Saturday evening we walked about ½ mile to the Theatre in the City Park. There was a Broadway show and Comedy Show at the theatre with a free concert outside. We enjoyed the great Soulful Rock Group, bought dinner and a bottle of wine. Another couple sat with us so it was a very pleasant evening with temperatures in the high 60's.

Football Day Sunday. We can dinghy to a sports bar so we can watch the Carolina Panthers.