Thursday, April 25, 2013

April 13 We were happy to be anchored and to see Alan and Cathy again and their great Maine Coon cat. Cathy took me to the market for a few last minute things. After an early dinner, they took us to a barbershop quartet show that was really Americana and fun.
April 14-19 I cooked all morning trying to get as much food prepared for John and Sam for their passage to Greenwich. Cathy and I went for a bike ride around the neighborhood. Got to love the flat land! Sam and his daughter Sarah arrived in the late afternoon and had cocktails. I had cooked dinner for John, Sam, Cathy, and Alan and they ate it while Sarah drove me to Charleston and to my motel for the night. After dinner, John and Sam left for their passage but didn’t go too far because it was hard seeing the unlit buoys in the river at night and it was now raining. They anchored for the night and started off the next am. I flew to NYC and went to my mother’s house in Greenwich to wait for their arrival. They had a good passage with a variety of weather but nothing horrible. I was glad to be off the boat. They anchored late in the afternoon off the yacht club, IHYC.

April 20 Sam had several visitors and they went for lunch nearby. John’s mother, Monaise, brought us some delicious paninis and we did some errands. Cocktails on board and Sam returned for dinner with Monaise at the IHYC.

April 21 We got up early in the morning and went all the way around Orient Point on the end of Long Island and deep into the bay between the two forks. Finally we anchored off the entrance to Corey’s mother’s condo complex where we would go the next day. The tender was launched and we went in to explore but didn’t find the right area where we were intending to go the next day. We did eliminate the other sections so had a pretty good idea where to go.

April 22 A sunny but windy day and we took the tender in to the right area of the inlet and found Chris waiting for us by the condo. Carol, Corey’s mom showed us around and then Chris took us to his house. We spent the day together and finally went back  the boat and were able to bring the tender up in the 25kts wind. It was a bit bouncy with a 2-3ft chop but it was too late to move so we rode it out. luckily, Windermere is heavy and it takes a lot to move her!

April 23 It was gray and windy but we left our spot and headed back out past Shelter island again and further East to Mystic and anchored off an area called Lord’s Point for the night.

April 24 The sun was finally out again and the conditions good for our last hop to Barrington. We made the 48nms in good time and were able to tied up at the dock and breath a sigh of relief. We had completed another round trip of 4308 nautical miles!

A post script: We are hanging up our cruising baseball hats and going ashore. We have had eleven incredible years and have gone about 50,740nms in three boats- two sail and one power. We have been from NewFoundland, in the North to the Grenadines, in the South and just about everything in between. We have met many interesting people and made some good friends we hope to keep in touch with and visit on land. The freedom to explore when and where we want will be missed but the boat repairs and other stresses will not. Our aging mothers and children and grand children are missing us and we them. There are things on our “bucket lists” we still want to do. Onward and upward!

Saturday, April 13, 2013

storm sky over ft. lauderdale

view down the coast from Arthur's apartment

here comes Oasis of the Seas

she is the largest cruise ship in the world

our Canadian friend's sailboat next to us

the stern of Oasis of the Seas

interesting sky overhead

John and Arthur and our possible land yacht brochure

dolphins off the bow on passage north

April 3 We loved our new anchorage because the water was deep and there was a dinghy dock nearby and a supermarket! I didn’t feel like cooking so we got Chinese takeout. What a wonderful thing. We hadn’t had that in many months.

April 4 We had planned for a pre sale survey so the first part was done in the morning by the surveyor’s assistant. Afterwards, we took the tender for an hour or so to explore. There was a smaller sailboat from Canada in the anchorage with us and we made friends and invited them over for cocktails. They had two very cute little girls so we got them settled in the bunk room with a good movie while we grown ups gabbed. As dinnertime approached, I suggested they bring their dinner over and cook it on our boat while we ate leftover Chinese food. That worked well and we all had a fun evening.

April 5 It was a rainy day so we just did things on the boat.

April 6 This was an exciting day. The sun was out and a friend named Arthur (who we know from NYC), met us at the dinghy dock and took us to lunch at Pier 66 marina restaurant. His friend, Robert joined us there. Our view was a big motor yacht called Cakewalk. We had seen it in the Exumas last year and our friends Sam and Susie know the owner from Denver. Afterwards, Arthur took us to his apartment on the 19th floor in a building that overlooks the channel to the sea. We got our drinks and sat on his balcony and watched 8 cruise ships leave the harbor. As each one passed by the building and blew its horn, many horns blasted in return from the buildings around us. It was loads of fun to watch. 

April 7 It was rainy a bit in the morning but cleared by lunch time. Our friends Milt and Judy Baker from Ft. Lauderdale picked us up and took us to lunch nearby and a very good and healthy restaurant. We were very happy to catch up with them. They even dropped me by the supermarket so I could get a few more groceries.

April 8 The main part of the survey happened on board and our broker came with the surveyor too. We had to take the boat out into the ocean and run it through its paces and test every system. This was stressful for John but the boat passed the test. Our idea was to find out if anything serious was going on that we needed to fix before anyone bought the boat. Arthur brought Robert to see the boat and they also brought really good pizza- another treat!

April 9-10 We left Ft. Lauderdale early but not too early as Arthur was waving an American flag off his balcony for us as we passed! The weather was sunny and we made the passage in the Gulf Stream and up the coast to Fernandina beach in good time. There was even a quick green flash at sunset! We arrived on an incoming tide, which is always nice, and anchored near the fuel dock we planned to go into the next morning.

April 11 First thing, we went to the dock and got some fuel which is cheaper down in Florida than up in CT or RI. Next, we headed up the coast to St. Catherine’s island, GA where we anchored for the night.

April 12 The next leg of our trip north was to go up on the outside to Port Royal Sound and then up the Beaufort river to just north of Beaufort, SC. We missed the 4pm bridge opening and had to anchor for 2 hours while the rush hour traffic used the bridge. Afterwards, we went the short distance to our friends Alan and Cathy Rae’s house. We have stopped there several times in the last 2 yrs but never arrived at almost low tide. As we came into their anchorage area, we scraped along the shell bottom slightly but were able to slowly work our way into our spot. 

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Red Florida onions at the Farmers Market

Time Square WWII lovers statue in Sarasota

passage breakfast of champions

time bomb crab pots

March 27 The wind was still blowing but less than before. As we were almost out of the long channel and in 20 ft of water, we suddenly and violently bounced on a 5ft 6” spot right in the middle of the channel! This was not a pleasant experience to say the least and really shook us up. We managed to finish the channel and turn north and make the short hop to Venice where we tied up at the Crow’s Nest Marina. The plan was to go out to dinner for once but we were not in the mood.

March 28 Our cruising friend, Alan, was dropped off by his wife, Kat, and he became our guide for our next leg of the trip. They live in Palmetto which is across the bridge from Bradenton in the Manatee River. He guided us to the dock at his house. With a cross wind at the dock, it took us quite a long time to get our tank Windermere secure. There were lines running every which way like a spider web but it worked. Kat made us a delicious dinner.

March 29 The wind was down and it was a beautiful sunny day. We had come to see some of the area so Kat took John and I to the farmer's market and flea market for the morning. Then our hosts drove us down to Sarasota for lunch in an area called St. Albans Circle. There were lots of restaurants and shops and people watching. Next, they drove us down to a RV place south of town where they showed us the small RV they were interested in buying. We were also intrigued by these “vans” that fit in a regular parking space. Maybe, if we can sell Windermere, we will buy a land yacht.
Back home for dinner and a movie on their big TV.

March 30 Our friends, Pom & Marsha, from Mystic rent a house for the winter on anna Maria Island which was nearby. We had called them earlier and planned to see them. They picked us up and took us out to the island for lunch a nice walk on the pretty beach there. After, they dropped us off, Kat and I did some errands. Dinner and another good movie.

March 31-April 2 The weather was looking good for a few days so we said our good byes and untangled ourselves from the dock and took off for Ft. Lauderdale. Our first night was great but the day was full of crab pots. We kept catching them and having to stop, go in reverse, circle around, etc. to try to work them off or cut their lines. Most of the time this worked but there was one stubborn one that would not budge. We stopped and John got into the water with his snorkel gear on and was able to free it. The rest of the way, we really had to pay attention. Around 5pm, we went under the Marathon Key bridge. Another hour or so of pots and we were in deep water outside the reef that follows the Keys east side. Beyond the reef is the Gulf Stream so we angled over to it and rode up the western edge the whole way to Ft. Lauderdale. By 9 am, we were just about there. We have a new anchorage there but we had not actually taken the boat there so we went cautiously up the Middle River to a cul-de sac where we could anchor for our time there.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

stilt house in Biscayne Bay

egret guarding a boat

feeding the tarpons

Kathy and John

ever hopeful pelican with tarpon

Joe and his new diet

white pelicans in the Ding Darling

John and White Angel's Trumpet

star fruit tree in the Edison garden

waves from the shoal to our left on Boca Grande Pass

March 19 John dropped me off so I could go to the market and then our air conditioning man came out to the boat and installed the needed parts. Later in the afternoon, at the high tide, we pulled up the anchor, went under the west Venetian Causeway bridge and headed down Biscayne Bay to anchor off Key Biscayne. This got us a jump on the next day’s trip down to Long Key. It was a beautiful, calm evening with a different view of Miami all lit up.

March 20 Another sunny calm day which made it perfect for a 70nm day down to Long Key. As we went out the Key Biscayne channel, we passed the stilt houses that have been there for years. We were planning to meet up with Joe and Kathy Ogden who were camping there in their RV. (We had them on the boat in Dec.) Once we had anchored out in the harbor and launched the tender, now we had to find a way to get ashore. There were no marinas on the island except on the far side which was where the wind was coming from the next day and not a good possibility. We saw a man coming in to the bay in a small fishing boat so I said “follow that boat”. He went through a channel into the mangroves and kept going and going and I had to “drop bread crumbs” as we wound our way through the canals and houses to where he finally stopped. We asked if he knew somewhere for us to tie up our tender the next day and he said his neighbor was away but would probably let us use his dock. He called him for us and the man said yes. yeah! now we were set. Back out to the boat picking up the bread crumbs.

March 21 We used our new dock spot and were picked up by Joe and Kathy and some friends that were visiting them for a few days from Michigan. Joe drove us all up a few islands in the chain to a fun restaurant that had some docks where the tarpon hung out to be fed by the tourists. After lunch, we went out on the dock to watch this fun. Then we went to the campground to see their RV and hang out some more together. Finally, it was time to leave and we said our good byes, took the tender out to the boat, raised it, and decided to leave the harbor while the tide was high and go a few miles down the way. We ended up anchoring off the camp ground! (but very far out as the water was shallow). Joe flashed his lights so we could see where he was sitting in the line up ashore.

March 22 We were both eager to get going so we left around 6:30am on our passage to Sanibel. First, we had to go down to Marathon Key and go under a big bridge there and then we were able to head north. What was not expected was crab pots everywhere! we had to dodge them for most of the day all the way north till almost Marco Island! As it grew dark, they stopped, thank heaven. The conditions were wonderful and we made good time.

March 23 Around 3am, we anchored off the bridge to Sanibel island in a spot we hoped would be out of the way. After some sleep, we had breakfast and called a friend (Anne Kimball) of ours from Mystic who now lived down there in a retirement place called Shell Point near Ft. Meyers. She answered and we arranged to meet her in the nearby marina after lunch. The tender was launched and we went in and were happy to learn we could leave the tender there. As we were eating our lunch, the dock master came in and said the Coast Guard was calling Windermere on the radio. He knew that was our boat and found us. We hopped in the tender and went out to ask them where they needed us to move. They told us and we did so and went back to the marina and met Anne. She gave us a wonderful driving tour of Sanibel, Captiva, and the Ding Darling nature preserve. She then took us to her house for drinks so that we could see her husband, Dick. Then back to the boat for the evening. 

March24 Anne and Dick picked us up at the Sanibel marina and took us to lunch at a place in Ft. Meyers but near their house. We all had a delicious lunch and good conversation. She took Dick home for a nap and then drove us to the Thomas Edison and Henry Ford museum in Ft. Meyers. The museum consists of both their houses and gardens and Edison’s botanical lab. We enjoyed the whole thing. She then took us back to the boat and we said our good byes.

March 25 The wind was blowing but we decided to move up the coast from Sanibel to Boca Grande anyway. Well, the seas over here on the Gulf are different from what we are used to on the eastern side of Florida. It is shallow so the seas are choppy, no big swells. With the wind basically on the nose, we “hobby horsed” our way up the chain of barrier islands. Not comfortable and we had to rev up the engine to get the power to push through the chop. To make things more “interesting”, there were more crab pots almost the whole way. The channel leading into Charlotte harbor is wide and deep but on the north/left going in side of the channel is a shoal. There were breaking waves on it just to our left and the wind was also coming now from our left so we rocked and rolled for the 20 mins it took to get in to more protected waters. We were very glad to have that experience over! We anchored off the inside of Boca Grande island where there wasn’t any channel to stay out of-yeah. 

March 26 We just sat on the boat and vegetated.