Check

Yep, we are still around, just been a little offline I guess.  We are still in Florida and still working on the project list and still making plans for where we are going next.  While we have been enjoying being surrounded by friends and family but haven’t had much “boat-y” things to report, therefore, the silence. Sorry.  We do have some very “boat-y” things on the horizon though. 

I did just have a birthday, one of those “Big-O” birthdays.  Gulp. And, since birthdays and bucket lists just seem to go hand-n-hand, I took a moment to look over mine. It had been a while. And, yes, I actually write down my list.  I am a list lover and if you only keep one list, I think this is definitely the one to keep.  To my surprise I had, without even realizing it, accomplished my #1 item, ‘’TO GO CRUISING FOR ONE YEAR”.  It has been my #1 since I’ve had a list and probably way before that. YAY!!!  YIPPPEEEEE!!!  HIGH-FIVE!!!! WE DID IT!!!!!

Oh, wait……..If I cross it off the list what am I supposed to do next?! What is my life goal?  What is my NEW #1 item? But I don’t want to cross it off the list.  I want to do it again!  Can I put it back on the list?  Maybe I can fail it on a technicality, maybe the months spent in the boat-yard last summer shouldn’t count. Maybe I can just edit the “one year” part, I obviously hadn’t dreamed big enough when I wrote it.  

After a bit of debating (with myself) I decided to cross it off the list, mark it as accomplished. Besides, the best part of having a list is getting to cross things off it and I don’t have many items crossed off of it yet. Also, it feels fantastic to cross off your #1 Bucket-list item (believe me, try it!). At the moment I still don’t have a new #1 (the actual list, other than #1 is in random order).  I am OK with that for now. Cruising is still what I want to be doing, and now it is just how I am going to continue checking items off that list.  Not all of them, I mean I have things like “GO TO ALASKA” and “SCOTLAND” on the list.  I don’t have the desire to cruise our little boat to those not-warm places. And, um,  “OWN A GOAT” doesn’t seem to jibe to well with the living on a boat thing too well either. Fortunately things like “LEARN SPANISH”, “BUILD AN ELABORATE SAND CASTLE” and “BE INVOLVED IN A REEF RESTORATION PROJECT” seem to be perfectly suited for my current lifestyle so dilemma solved.  Now, let’s see how many I can cross off this year!  I am feeling excited! 

Of course, I also just added a few item too.  After seeing Lisa’s pictures from the Galapagos, I couldn’t help but add “SWIM WITH A SEA LION”.  Then, after seeing Rochelle’s pictures from Austrailia, I added “SEE A WILD WALLABY”.

 

The Bucket List:

  • Go cruising for one year
  • watch baby sea turtles hatch
  • swim under a waterfall
  • hike in a rainforest
  • be involved in a reef restoration process
  • learn Spanish
  • run a 5K
  • build a tiny cottage
  • own a goat
  • save a wild animal
  • cross the equator
  • go to Alaska
  • go to Scotland
  • coast to coast road trip
  • sail ICW and go to NYC by boat
  • go camping again
  • go deep sea fishing
  • ride in a helicopter
  • Make a friend in a another country
  • eat a meal entirely from my own garden/yard
  • ride a train
  • sell a piece of handmade jewelry
  • find an old shipwreck artifact on the beach (doesn’t have to be valuable)
  • go to New Zealand/Australia
  • zipline through a rainforest
  • look into a volcano
  • see a wild hutia
  • go to Cuba
  • scuba dive
  • teach a class
  • go white water rafting again
  • finish a 5 year journal
  • write a poem
  • jump from a cliff into deep water
  • ride a horse on the beach
  • go the Jumentos and Ragged islands
  • go to the San Blas Islands
  • make a long-lasting difference in a strangers life
  • see a wild monkey
  • get a hot stone massage
  • learn to give a great massage
  • go to Hawaii
  • design and sew (and wear) an outfit
  • do 100 pushups (I don’t remember writing that one!)
  • build an elaborate sandcastle
  • build a snowman
  • pick a bucket of blueberries again
  • visit Cat island
  • pan for gold or other gems just for fun
  • swim with a sea lion
  • see a wild wallaby

Keith, who does not share my love of making lists, doesn’t have an actual bucket list.  But I know if he did renting a scooter and touring the Dominican Republic would be on it, I think he’s going to get to mentally check that one off the list soon! 

You may have noticed riding a scooter is not on my list. If you watched me ride a bike you’d understand.  Though, I bet building a sandcastle isn’t on his list.  Marriage is a sweet compromise 🙂 

So, what is your #1 item on your bucket list? Share! Is this the year you cross it off?

It was a good, good year!  And we ate a lot of fish!

 

 

 

“E” Dock Reunion

 

We are enjoying cruising with Saraid and decided to head up to Double Breasted together making a stop at Allens-Pensacola.  Pulling onto the anchorage we saw a lone catamaran, and it looked familiar……..Temporary Insanity!  Our other dock neighbors!  Hello, John and Anne.  So here we all are, three boats from the same dock all at the beginning of our cruises.  If we had planned it, it would have never happened.  Naturally a potluck occurred.  Delish.   

Wanting settled weather for anchoring at Double Breasted, we hung around at Allens for another day.  Then another when we started hearing grumbles of a possible tropical LO developing just south of us.  Then another when we heard grumbles of the now more probable possible tropical LO developing AND heading towards us.  But the current weather was pleasant even if too brisk to really get off shore for diving on the outer reefs, we still did enough diving to satisfy us and keep our bellies filled.  

On one of the afternoons while the boys were busy cleaning conch Lisa and I took a walk to the ocean side to visit the signing tree looking for familiar names. Some of the boards were ingenious!  One name was written with 5200, I’m sure that one will be around for a few more decades. I also liked the one that laced their name on a piece of drift wood, so smart. I have got to make us a name board!   

^^Boat food.  It’s the best.  Especially when shared in the cockpit with friends 🙂

 

 

Velcro Beach

We had to make a decision, we could either rush and use the current weather window to cross or wait for the next.  With gale-like winds coming in at the end of the week, we decided we didn’t want to hurry across just to be scrambling to find a good anchorage to hunker down into for our first days in the Bahamas, so we are headed south on island time, waiting for the windy days to pass and catch the next good weather opportunity.  We made it just a wee little bit further south to Vero Beach, frequently called “Velcro Beach” by cruisers because it’s apparently just so easy to stay here.  We picked up a mooring and paid for two nights, not usually our style, but for $15.00 a night we get hot, almost pressure-washer hard, showers, free wifi, and access to the rest of the Marina amenities like laundry, book exchanges, and other cruisers to mingle with.  The most welcome feature for us, though, is the floating dinghy dock! We now have legitimate access to shore.  Woohoo.  But wait, it gets even better, at the end of the dinghy dock is a bus stop-where a FREE bus comes around twice an hour to pick you up and take you all over town or to the beach. 

Our first night in we didn’t have the energy to go exploring, I have no idea what was so exhausting about a windless putter down the nearly deserted ICW but we were in bed by 7:30.  With our extra hours of sleep, we were ready to put our tourist shoes on the next day. In the morning we took the bus to the closest shopping center. It had two grocery stores, a West Marine, two liquor stores, a TJMaxx and a handful of other chain restraints and shops.  We loaded up on another $100.00 of groceries because even though we just bought six months of groceries I decided I needed stuff to make dinner.  Backpacks overloaded, we missed the bus by one minute so we wandered around a dive shop for a half an hour until we caught the next bus.  It wasn’t really the right bus because it took the long route back, but it still eventually went where we were going.  We got on the bus with an older gentleman who was wearing very torn, thin clothes but had wads of money and new lotto tickets falling out of every pocket.  He knew most of the people on the bus and also knew exactly how to push all of their buttons.  And did.  A bunch of smack-talk became loud and turned into “I’m gonna kick your…”.  We really thought there might be a fight between the guy next to me and the one behind me, but there wasn’t.  Just drama.   It was just like being back on a school bus.  We just sat and enjoyed the air conditioning and the free ride.

In the evening we saw a bit more of town had a to-remember dinner with our friend.  She took us to what must be the best spot in Vero, the Kilted Mermaid.  A very good night.

In the morning we got on the bus, this time to the beach.  I have been to the beach only twice since coming back from the Bahamas so it was a treat.  We gazed at the flat ocean and what was the last few hours of calm crossing weather there was. In the afternoon we lounged around and stopped by the office and paid for one more night on the mooring.  We then walked to the very large, and completely free, dog park that shares the waterfront with the mooring field so Kai could have a play date with his friend Congo (and we could meet up with Congo’s Mom).  Kai hasn’t been to a dog park in months and ran and sniffed himself to exhaustion.

The next day we hopped on the bus and spent the morning at the beach and peeking in all the pricy boutiques and found some galleries to enjoy.  The good thing about wandering about in a rich community is that there is absolutely no temptation to buy anything!  We came home for lunch (the gourmet cafes are not in our budget).  We also stopped by the office and paid for three more nights before hopping on the bus again. 

^^ Vero Beach City Marina mooring field

^^ Dinghy dock + free bus = match made in heaven ❤️

^^ Kai cooling his paws at the (free) dog park.   

Twenty Years

There is a commonly cited quote among the cruising community as it succinctly expresses the inspiration and motivation of the cruising lifestyle, and no matter how many times I come across it it still always resignates with me.  It reads:

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

(By the way, not Mark Twain’s words)

Today, though, I read it differently and instead of envisioning the next twenty years as I always do when I read those words, I reflected back at the past twenty years.  It’s Keith and I’s twentieth wedding anniversary which makes today my twenty-years-from-now cash-in day.  And I have to say…no disappointments. 🙂

It all started with us going to my junior prom together.  We went “as friends” but by the time he took me home for curfew we had given up on the “only friends” pretense.  I mean just look at how happy we looked-who were we fooling!  That’s us on our first date in 1993 standing on the deck of the Willoghby Bay Marina where we met and were both living.

 

We got married just two years later.  It was supposed to be in a beautiful pecan orchard overlooking the Chesapeake Bay but there was a tropical storm doing loop-d-loops out in the Atlantic so our wedding took place in a hot,  unairconditioned basement.   (Does the wedding photo makes more sense now?) For the first five anniversaries in a row we had a hurricane or tropical storm, it became our little joke.  One year we went through a hurricane in Little Creek, Virginia and I was still trying to bake Keith an anniversary cake.  The boat was rocking so badly that the alcohol in the alcohol stove poured out and when I lit it I caught the whole stove on fire and we had to use the fire extinguisher to put it out-just what you want when you have the boat battened up as tight as possible.  I don’t remember if I ever got the cake baked or not.  The point being, I guess hurricanes and anniversaries aren’t a bad omen for us, discounting the fire incident….which is really good because we kept checking in on Erika’s path today.  Eeeek. But, I’ll take her as a good omen for another great twenty plus years to come!

Twenty.  Still trying to wrap my head around that!  Wow have we done a lot together in those years.  We didn’t take any pictures today, but if we had I think I would have still had that smitten look on my face.😍 I’ve found the one I want to keep exploring, dreaming, and discovering with!

Happy Twentieth Anniversary to us!!!  

(Now go away Erika, we are doing just fine without you!) 

 


Green Turtle

I think I had envisioned us staying at Double Breasted for longer, but we got weather reports indicating that a tropical LO might be developing right over our heads bringing winds from possibly any, or all, directions upwards of fourty to fifty knots.  Being anchored just a few yards off rocks on one side and a few yards off a sandbar on the other side didn’t seem like the ideal spot so we booked it on out and sailed to Manjack Cay and then onto Green Turtle Cay and tucked up into White Sound for some all-around protection.

The forecast stalled and then fell apart and we ended up with nothing but some squalls and a lot of rain.  We were thrilled with the rain. The deck got scrubbed, the towels got rinsed, the water tanks got filled overfilled, every bucket we owned got set out, we rinsed ourselves, we rinsed the dog.  We may have rinsed him a little too much.  Cruising changes how you view rain 🙂

Green Turtle Cay is an adorable quiet settlement filled with rental cottages, cute shops, and delishious smelling bakeries.  So colorful and pretty in a pink and turquise with a white picket fence kind of way.  It was even prettier when I found that I could get wifi in the anchorage, (which is how I finally got the last several posts up).  It disappeared intermittently when the boat swung and I lost it completely after the weather moved through, but it made me quite a happy camper for a short while!  I hate to admit how much I have missed it.

Besides walking around the town and peeking into every shop and chasing a weak wifi signal from bow to stern, we had a good few days of meeting new friends and old.  We had a wonderful evening meeting three new cruising couples and sharing drinks and appetizers all while laughing maybe a bit too hard at a boat trying unsuccessfully to pick up their mooring ball.  Then we ran into our long time friend and old finger-pier neighbor Darryl and Debbie as they were anchoring.  A terrific surprise. We invited them over for conch and hogfish after the rains subsided and they invited us over for a yumm-o breakfast the next morning.  I love that breakfast with friends-on a weekday-is so natural now.  

Our friends, new and old, all headed south after the threat of any weather dissipated.  We headed north just a few minutes back to Manjack Cay.  We weren’t done diving just quite yet and Manjack has been a favorite of ours.  Within ten minutes on our first dive, we had our limit of conch and a hogfish in the bucket. Guess what is for dinner?  Actually, the next day Keith switched it up a speared a Margate for dinner, we liked it too.  Variety is supposed to be good for you. We haven’t even made it out to the reefs yet, that was all in the cuts between the cays they have some pretty neat snorkeling. I got most excited about seeing the tentical of an octopus in a hole and a moray eel.

Back on our first night at anchor at Manjack, when we were on our way to Green Turtle, we were so relieved that for the first time since Florida we were not going to be anchoring in a crazy current.  No water rushing along the hull all night, no tide changes, just a quiet peacefull night that we could sleep all the way through. You do know where this is going right?  

Around 1:30: BUMP.  Keith and I flew out of bed, down the “hall”, and up the companionway expecting to see that we hit or were hit by something.  Nothing.  Keith yelled at me to turn on the depth sounder, maybe we were hitting the bottom.  BUMP.  I ran back down the companionway, which is a six step ladder by the way, and flipped on the breaker, just as Keith was telling me to hurry-up and come here!  Back up the companionway (ladder) to see what was attacking our boat.  Two dolphins.  We could see them perfectly with our stern light and the full moon and we could see every blade of grass and urchin on the sand below us.  There were two of them, one bigger than the other, and for about ten minutes they kept swimming under the stern of out boat.  They would take several breathes, swim under and blow lots and lots of bubbles.  Sometimes they bumped the boat.  We both got dolphin spit on us.  We could hear their clicks and squeaks and if we had wanted to we could have easily touched them from the swim platform.  At the time we didn’t want to, we were still trying to figure out why it seemed they wanted to attack our boat.  Finally Keith saw the smaller one swim out from under the boat with a fish in his mouth.  Then they left.  That was a lot of work for one fish!  Keith said it wasn’t even that big.  

So last night was our first night back here in the same anchorage since we went to Green Turtle and we were awoken last night by a big burst of bubbles under our bed.  Keith woke up and said “they’re back”, I grabbed my camera and ran up the companionway but they didn’t hang around.  I have my camera ready just in case they come back tonight.  I like my sleep, but it was a too-cool moment..

A Totally Twisted Time

Keith is home from his boys-trip fishing-trip and back hard at work so I will do my best to capture his vacation the best I can from piecing together the excited, fragmented stories (you know how fishing stories go) and the photos.

First let me address the photos. Out of four days in one of the most beautiful places on earth, he brought back fifteen photos. Fifteen. Not one of him, not one of the pretty water, not one of the beaches, not one of a fish. At first I was disappointed; now I find it amusing so I am posting all fifteen-no editing.

Second, for a little background on the trip. Keith went with JJ and James, two of the guys from behind the Totally Twisted brand. Both sailors who have done plenty of cruising in the Bahamas. The boat is a 31ft Jupiter; an open center-console powerboat with a Diesel engine and out drive. Keith may be a sailor, but there is no denying that part of him is most definitely a power-boater. He is always commenting to me about how fast that “power boat there” could be in the Bahamas and he has always wanted to go fishing on one. If he wrote a “bucket list” this trip would have been on it.

So here is the trip as I have pieced it:

Friday-successfully fished while crossing–dolphin I think. But of course I don’t have photo proof of that ;). They cleared in at Grand Cay (instead of Walkers Cay now) and secured a cute little efficiency that included a dock with water. Which seems much nicer than their plan B which was to sleep on the deck of the boat. I do have photos of the efficiency and dock. After clearing in, they ran out to the reefs and spent some time spearfishing.

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Oh, and those bananas on the counter-I packed those. I’m not big into superstitions, but apparently bananas on boats are bad. I may/may not be to be being blamed for the later events. Sorry!

Saturday -apparently the goal was to be in the water as much as possible, and it sounds like they did a good job of it. (Again, no photo proof, though) Lots of diving off of double breasted, and If you have ever talked to Keith for more than fifteen minutes then you know it is his most favorite place in the world so it was a good day. They caught themselves dinner and had the bar cook it up for them.

At some point in the evening Keith discovered that his wallet was missing. Along with every last cent of cash he had on him. I got a very quick phone call Saturday night asking me to cancel all his cards. He believed that it must have fallen out of his pocket while sitting on the edge of the boat. Bummer!

I’m not sure, maybe this photo was taken in the scramble of looking for the lost wallet? I have no idea what it is of. 20140910-191122.jpg

Sunday-they did some diving off Walkers Cay. Keith has always wanted to dive there, but we never make that far out by dinghy. The guys did good tag-teaming and working together, which is good since the sharks seemed to be very “alert” to the spearfishing.

From the stories, another fun filled day.

From the photos, it must have been so fun that they just forgot to take any pictures!

Keith was surprised and maybe saddened by the changes in quiet little Grand. It is exploding with new big houses and motels. The fishing scene that once was Walkers has taken root in Grand. Maybe it’s a good thing for the locals, but Keith said the effects were easy to see on the reefs in just two years. Almost every coral head had boats with hooka rigs on them all day- just harvesting. Keith took a few photos of Grand so I could see the changes. The people were the same happy people though.
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Monday- was head home and offshore fishing day. Until it wasn’t. About sixty some odd miles ENE from Stuart, forty some odd miles WNW of Walkers Cay, and forty some odd miles N of Freeport, things went wrong. The short story is the out drive was, in the most definitive way, broken. They were well north of the usual boat traffic routes to and from Florida and not far enough east to get the traffic up and down the coast. It really was just about the worst spot to break down. (Just to note, VHF range is about 25-30 miles). An open (and damaged) powerboat, with no ability to even keep the boat pointed into the seas on the far side of the Gulfstream is not really a great position to be in.

It took several hours, but through broken and relayed communications between the Coast Guard, Tow Boat US, and another vessel in the area, a tow was arranged. A seventy-four mile tow. Crazy. I didn’t even know they would tow you that far. Crazier, when Keith asked the tow-boat captain how fast they would be going back he thought the captain was joking when he said 18-20 knots. He wasn’t. At times they were going 22 knots. Of course he got pictures of that!.

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The nice captain of the other boat that had assisted in communications for the guys gave me a call when he made into cell phone range of Florida to let me know Keith and they boys were going to be home a bit late.

Late but safe.

JJ had some type of super platinum, unlimited, ultra deluxe towing coverage and there was no charge for the tow and hopefully the boat repairs will be covered by insurance. With that in mind, Keith had a great time. He even brought back two hogfish filets and a few conch to share with me. 🙂

And by the way, guess what I found amongst all the dirty laundry he brought back? A wallet.

A couple of guys “just living life” and enjoying a “totally twisted” trip.

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Update: Thanks JJ for the additional photos!!

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