Saturday, December 24, 2011

John and our mini van with the wood

Ray from No Agenda raking sea grass

Susan picking up debris

John and Ray making one of the benches

John hard at work

Other cruisers helped too

John with the garbage going to the dump
croton plant in Staniel Cay

Eloise and Burke smith the owners of the Blue Store

Some of the shelves and Burke's sailing trophies

The refrigerators and freezers for the fresh food

A good day shelling!
Dec. 11-18 We enjoyed a quiet week at “home” and slowly watched the comings and goings of various boats into the harbor. some were old favorites and others new to us. Many move on and go further south to Georgetown or further. We also checked in with some of our island friends and got caught up on their summers and any hurricane damage. On several nights we partied with other boats and played a new board game, dominos, and some cards. It was windy most of the time but I got into the water everyday and swam around for the exercise and the sheer joy of being in that clear warm water once again. One good sighting was a small green turtle swimming on a baby reef nearby. We usually don’t see turtles in this harbor. Because of the wind, the mail boat that usually comes mid week was not able to come and the larder of fresh things grew smaller every day. I even had to resort to putting baby bok choy on John’s sandwich because my lettuce ran out days earlier. Yesterday, we did go the store and found a few things that had been flown in by the store owners’ son who is a pilot.

Dec. 19-24 This was the week of getting the community beach back to working order after Hurricane Irene did her work. We all use the beach for get togethers and bonfires during the winter. John and I and our friends on ‘No Agenda’ were the ring leaders of the restoration project. The hurricane had moved the sand around and thrown lot of dead sea grass all over the beach. ‘No Agenda’ went to Sampson and Staniel and were able to get rakes and shovels. The men also took apart wooden pallets for bench building materials and others scavenged scrap wood for the bonfire. Over several days and with the help of other cruisers, we were able to get the beach in good enough shape for a cocktail party and small bonfire. Everyone brought hor’s to share and their own drinks. The 4 musketeers brought beach chairs to leave on the beach for the season. It has been christened Pirate Beach after one of our friends boats because the owner, Jim, was very involved with the beach last year. Jim is coming again and boy will he be surprised by what we all have accomplished! He is bringing a folding table to add to the “furnishings”. There is even talk of a simple ladies toilet enclosure. Stay tuned. Our only problem is several of the younger pigs from pig beach down the way have found this beach. So we are trying to scare them off because we don’t want to encourage them- they can bite! Today, the four of us took the trash debris in our dinghies from the beach to the dump and brought back more firewood for the cause. Tomorrow, we all plan to go to Sampson for a delicious Xmas dinner.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

We anchored off and just north of this marina in Biscayne Bay
Dec. 5 Ariel took us to a great burger place and we treated them to lunch. Afterwards, we went across the street to Enterprise and picked up our car rental. It was time to drive to Pompano Beach and pick up the parts to fix the water heater. we found the place easily as we had our portable GPS with us. Once back on the boat, John managed to get the thing back together and it worked! He immediately had a nice hot shower.

Dec. 6 It took several tries (leaving in the dinghy ,tying up at Ariel, realizing we had forgotten something, and going back to the boat) but we finally got to the car with everything we needed for our last day in civilization. First we had several errands to run for ourselves and also Ariel, then we were meeting my ex mother inlaw, Olga Fanjul for lunch along with another Cuban friend, Dolores. We had a good Spanish lunch with white wine sangria. After dropping Olga and Dolores off, we spent the rest of the afternoon and early evening finishing our errands, dropping off the car and making one last run to the supermarket. We didin’t get back to the boat till about 7:30pm and then I had to find room for all the food. The refridgerator was jammed pack full. no room for anything more but the door was able just able to close!

Dec. 7 It was glassy calm and we were the last to leave when we left at 7 am. The sailboats had left the day before in the light wind that day. We got the 7:30 am bridge opening and headed out Government Cut to open ocean. It was nice being able to cross the beautiful blue gulf stream with 1-2ft waves and onyl a little breeze. About halfway across, a small group of dolphins came to play by our bow. I leaned out over the bow and whistled and waved to them and they turned to look at me many times. One even swam on its back for a while looking up at me. What a thrill. They do love to play with humans. Later, I spotted some whales but they were far off and I couldn’t tell which kind they were. By 3pm, we crossed over onto the Bahama Bank and went from thousands of feet in depth to about 30 ft. then later about 17 ft. Now the water was our favorite turquoise color and we could see the bottom! After months of brown or green opaque water, it is a treat to finally be in crystal clear water again. The wind died and the whole Bank was like a lake. We had a full moon, and even at midnight, we could look down and see the bottom. It seems as through one is in about 5 ft but it really is much deeper.

Dec. 8 We arrived at Chub Cay at about 3 am and anchored in our usual spot just outside the channel. When the world was awake, we took the boat into the fuel dock to clear customs and get a token amount of fuel. They charge $100 to use their facility to clear customs but they allow people to buy that amount of fuel instead. At $6 a gallon, we didn’t get much. The big disappointment was only getting 90 days to stay in the Bahamas so we have to renew our papers in March which is a big pain! After we were finished there, we took off for the southern side of New Providence Island and anchored just around the western end near a new marina. The holding was horrible so we rested the anchor on the bottom with about 200 feet of chain and the weight of both held us even in 15kts of wind.

Dec. 9 We decided to take the dinghy in and check out the new marina and resort complex. Wow what a place! Their rates are even less than Lyford Cay on the other side and the marina is easier to get into and bigger inside. We saw Mirabella 5 with its very tall mast. She is a biggie! We also saw Johnny Depps motor yacht and Tiger Woods powerboat. Once we had put the dinghy back up on the top deck, we headed over to the Exumas. The wind was still blowing and the progress slow but we made it all the way to Shroud Cay and anchored just as the sun was setting.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

McKee Botanical Gardens in Vero Beach

great flower at McKee

big lily pads at McKee

real pineapple growing

SEAL museum Maersk Alabama's lifeboat from which SEALS rescued captain and crew from Somali pirates

horse sculpture in bronze at the Vero Beach Art Museum

Judy Waldman our broker

Jane Plachter Vogel who designed our boat interior

We were anchored off of this marina and visited Ariel
Nov.20 It was a nice calm day so we launched the dinghy and took a ride into town. St. Augustine is definetly a tourist spot. We walked around and had a quick lunch outside under the trees. Back to the boat in time to pick up some more cousins who wanted to visit. Torrey brought a cousin, Melanie, and her cute 7 yr old son, Freddy. They got the 25 cent tour and we gabbed for a while. Then John dropped them off and found another Cape Horn in the marina! It was an older and smaller model but the owners were nice and we had them out for a quick visit to see Windermere. Now, we left for another overnight down to Ft. Pierce.
Nov. 21 This trip wasn’t too bad just seemed long as we either had a bad current against us or our bottom really needs a cleaning. We arrived just at sunset with a vicious current bringing us in to the harbor. My first idea for an anchorage didn’t work as the area had silted in more than the charts said. We found another spot near a marina and dropped the hook. After a quick dinner, we went to bed.

Nov. 22 It was a perfect day to get 2,500 gallons of fuel. The fueling dock was easy access and the attendant friendly and the whole thing went well. Next, we moved to our new spot just south of an island with lots of townhouses on it. We took the dinghy to several spots looking for a place to leave it and be able to park a car. We were here to visit our friends, Peter and Joan Ross, from Mystic for Thanksgiving. We finally took the dinghy into a lagoon and found a friendly man who let us us his dock and park the Ross’s car. They came and picked us up and we had a nice lunch at the city marina. Then we did some more errands and ended up at their house for a leftover dinner.

Nov. 23-26 Over the next few days, we did errands and were entertained by the Ross’s and another friend, Marcy Porter. Joan took us to the Navy Seals
Museum, and the Vero Beach Art Museum which we both enjoyed. We had thanksgiving at the Moorings big club with a very interesting group of their friends.

Nov. 27 It was still a bit windy but it was time to move on down to Lake Worth. We rocked and rolled a bit but not too badly but we still had a bad current or dirty bottom problem, We arrived just before sunset and found a spot to anchor. It was surreal watching the cruise ships and tankers and gigantic private yachts coming and going.

Nov. 28 We stayed put because there was wind on the outside.

Nov. 29 It was sunny and calm so we poked our heads out and motored in almost lake conditions for once down to Ft. Lauderdale. What a busy place that was and it wasn’t even a weekend. At least we don’t have to wait for the main big bridge there because we fit under it now. As we curved along following the channel northward to our special anchorage, John decided to try to go into another spot we knew about and missed the turn. We were hard aground! The Z drive couldn’t get us off so we had to wait for the last hour of the out going tide and the first 2 hours of the incoming tide. We were right off Bahia Mar marina and the tour boats going by announced to their passengers that we were agound and the tow boat would help us when the time was right. Tow Boat US was there waiting to help us and they did as we started to float again. Then we proceeded up the channel and under the next bridge and to our littl anchorage spot for the night. Needless to say John was not happy.

Nov. 30 A new day and we had arranged for divers to come and clean the bottom. They did a great job and found no damage. Pays to have a strong boat. John and I washed and dried the boat because we had special visitors coming. Our broker, Judy, lives in Ft. Lauderdale and was one of our lunch guests. The other was a lady named Jane who had done all of the designing of the interior of the boat. We had never met her and were thrilled to finally do so. She hadn’t seen the boat since it was finished in 2003. We gave them lunch and a tour of the boat. John was happy the rest of the day!

Dec. 1 It was time to go south again and this time we were able to go up to our normal cruising speed. It is amazing what alittle scum and some barnacles can do to a boat’s speed through the water. we made it down to Miami is good time and came in the big channel where the cruise ships come in and all of the comercial traffic. Then we had to weave our way east in Biscayne Bay towards South Miami Beach where we planned to anchor. Our friends on Ariel were there in the marina waiting for us. As soon as we got settled and launched the dinghy, we went in to have a drink with them and catch up on their travels. Back to the boat for an early dinner.

Dec. 2 In the morning, we checked out the two good grocery stores and then our friend, Robin, came to see us and have lunch with us at a nearby Italian restaurant. She used to live in Brazil but has moved back to the states and lives in Florida now. We had a wonderful lunch outside with wine and felt so cosmopolitan. Then, she drove us to Costco to get some things which took most of the afternoon. It was a fun visit if short.

Dec. 3 First we had to get some more dry goods for our trip but then we met up with our friends on Ariel and they showed us around the area. South Beach is definetly a hopping place! We walked the whole length of Lincoln road which runs east-west on the island and loked at all of the shops, restaurants, and, of course, people. They knew a good lunch spot with great salads so we stopped there and ate. Then, we walked along the beach south to the real part of South Beach and had ice cream cones. There are buses everywhere so we rode one home.

Dec. 4 We had a slow morning but then decided to go into the marina and use their pool and have a shower. I forgot to say, our water heater had died the day before so we had no hot water. The swim and warm shower were both great. Cocktails was on Ariel and dinner was at a good French bistro on Lincoln Rd. amist all the action.