Friday, February 5, 2016

Goodbye Marathon

As we left Boot Key Harbor this morning, I couldn't help but feel like we were saying goodbye to family. It was a tough one. We were only there for two months but we made some amazing new friends and reconnected with some from our first trip two years ago. It's crazy how you could spend such a short time with people but feel like you have known them for years. I'm not sure if it's a cruiser's bond or if we've just been lucky enough to meet the right people. Probably a little of both. Needless to say, goodbyes were weepy for me this morning.

Sandy & Herman s/v Bonita

Michele & Sid s/v El Camino
Even as we passed one of our favorite fishing holes my eyes welled up. Not that I'm comparing our friendships to a fishing hole, but Bud and I spent many, many hours bobbing around in the dinghy trying to catch dinner. Most of the time we were successful, but most of all, it was just our favorite time together. 

We really did enjoy our time in Marathon. There was always stuff going on in the Harbor community. We got out on the softball field quite a few times and even with me pulling a quad muscle the first day, and Bud throwing like a T-Rex (due to his frozen shoulder), we still ran around and had a lot of fun. I also enjoyed a few pine needle basket weaving classes with friends and am working on my second basket!

My first basket!
We kept busy for our last few weeks, and we also had another visitor! Our friend Jeannie came for four days. The weather was not the best but it was good to see her and we had a blast. There was no swimming or snorkeling, but we did get out fishing one day. We both had long johns and three layers on, but we caught a few fish and we definitely had a great time catching up. 

Jeannie and I with our catch!
Right now we are motor sailing up the Florida Bay with our buddy boat Links to explore the gulf coast for a few months. There's no telling when we will be back to Marathon but we will certainly treasure the memories and the friendships from this trip. Although leaving was very difficult today, it feels really good to be sailing again and moving on. 

Well, I was hoping to post this before we entered the Everglades and lost our signal and contact with the rest of the world, but I couldn't, so here's what we've been up to for the past four days. 
Exploring the 10,000 Islands....which should be called 10,000 mosquitoes! We spent the first night in a Little Shark River. This was a place where we stayed on our first trip, so we knew the skeeters were going to be bad. Apparently these little bloodsuckers have spent the last two years multiplying! Even though we have screens for all of our windows and hatches, somehow they were getting in. I became slightly obsessed with smooshing as many of the little buggers as I could and I spent a lot of time cleaning all the ceilings with my Clorox wipes. Definitely one of the ickier sides of cruising. The next morning, even though it was a bit drizzly, we decided to move on. The day turned out nice and we had a beautiful sail to New Turkey Key. The water was so flat most of the day we would have never known we were sailing on the Gulf of Mexico. We had never stopped at New Turkey Key before, but we hit the nature lovers jackpot! So many islands to explore, nature to take in and no people, with the exception a few campers. The island we were anchored closest to was the perfect spot for an afternoon cookout where we enjoyed hot dogs and a little bit of freshly caught fish.
Our fire pit and grill

We headed back to the boats and just when we thought the day couldn't get any better, three dolphins came speeding by jumping out of the water over and over again. The evening was topped off with a gorgeous sunset and a pink flamingo flying overhead. The skeeters were beginning to swarm, so we moved our little party aboard Links for a card game and some dessert.  Places like New Turkey Key are the reason we cruise.

The next day we moved on to another spot, Panther Key. We had a perfect sail complete with dolphins swimming on our bow!

 Now we are finished exploring the 10,000 Islands and are currently in Marco Island where we will be staying for a few days because of weather. We are looking forward to the rest of our trip, but the past four days are going to be hard to beat!

Sent from my iPad

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Cold Fronts and Keeping Busy

Visitors! Lizzy and Dave are here!

I guess it hasn't all been cold and rainy weather, there have been some bright spots! The guys returned with the vehicles a few days before Christmas, and I must say that it definitely comes in handy. Trips to the grocery store, or propane exchanges are much easier now. It actually feels like we "live" here now, and I'm not quite sure if I like that feeling or not. Either way, we will be moving on in a few weeks and are very excited about that. 

Christmas came and we had a very nice pot luck dinner here at the Marina with our harbor family. Still didn't really feel like Christmas, but it was a nice day anyway. We spent New Years Eve on Links with Tim & Jill, and actually made it up 'til midnight! The next day was the Polar Bear Plunge (the water temp was 77!) and the chili cook-off. Our Friend Michele, from El Camino won the poultry division, and my dish won the seafood division. I must admit that it was only entry, but it was pretty tasty! Links also made an awesome jalapeƱo cornbread to go along with our dishes! Another great day.

The new year also brought us some visitors! Lizzy and Dave came for 4 days, unfortunately Pete didn't make it. He had a snowboarding accident and ended up with a broken leg. Luckily Grandma has been around to help him out, along with his friends. We did get out on the boat a few times with them and even made it to the reef for snorkeling. We love having visitors and showing them what our life is like on a daily basis. We didn't make them spend half a day in the laundry room, but Dave did help Bud clean the boat bottom! We had a blast, but needed a day to recover from staying up later than normal! 

As I sit here right now in my jeans and fleece, it is funny to look around and see everyone in hats and's 66 degrees out! We haven't seen the sun in a few days, but it's also been a good opportunity to take a ride and go exploring. We took a ride down the lower keys yesterday, and dropped in on an old neighbor that lives down here now. We also saw our first Key Deer of the trip while driving some back roads. There's also a blimp called Fat Albert out on Cudjoe Key. Not quite sure what it's for but there's all kinds of rumors. Spying on Cuba? Maybe. 

Little Key Deer Buck
Fat Albert

The gang relaxing at Sunset Grille

Captain Dad

 Looking forward to another visitor in a few days! JT is coming! Hopefully the weather will warm up!

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Settled In

Boot Key Harbor
Well, I know it's been a while, but we've been very busy settling in to our new "home" for the next few months. Let's see...what have we been doing for the past month...
We were stuck in Key Largo for a week with super windy weather. When we finally left we headed down the line to Islamorada for a few days.
Enjoying happy hour at Lorelei's
Tim & Jill s/v Links
Although Islamorada was nice we were anxious to get to Marathon. Each year the harbor has been filling up quicker than the year before, so we wanted to make sure we got mooring balls. There is limited room to anchor in the harbor, but it is definitely more secure on the mooring ball, especially when the cold fronts blow in.

We arrived in Marathon on November 30th, a week earlier than in 2013. Luckily we got a spot in the mooring field that we liked. It's good to be back here and see some of the same boats and friends we had met two years ago.  A few days after we arrived, we had our first visitor!
Lizzy came down for a day...much too short of a visit, but it was great to see her! We are looking forward to her next visit, along with her hubby Dave, and Pete! So excited!!
After Liz left it pretty much rained for a week straight. This is supposed to be the dry season, what's up with that? So, living on a boat, extended rain means two things....finding and fixing leaks, and mold patrol! Not fun. It finally stopped raining and we were able to dry out. We had many good days of fishing and have caught some interesting things.
One of the 3 sharks we caught that day!

Bud's big catch!
We also had two good days of snorkeling out on Sombrero Reef, five miles off shore. Our first trip out we took SeaQuest. Tim and Jill (s/v Links) came along as well as Gail and Don, friends of ours from NJ who have a house here. The second trip out we went along on Links with Sid & Michele (s/v El Camino) who we met two years ago, and happen to be moored right next to us.
After snorkeling we all took a dinghy ride to Sunset Grill, where there's a nice big pool to relax in. Yup, now we feel like we are on vacation!
Michele & Sid  s/v El Camino
Cap'n Jill driving the dinghy

Jill had been practicing driving the dinghy, knowing that our Captains were leaving us for a few days. Bud and Tim hitched a ride back up north with a friend so that they could pick up our vehicles. It will be much easier in the Spring when we have to empty the boat to leave it in Florida. I will expand on that plan when we have more of the details worked out.
So now, with a cold front blowing 20-25 knots for the next few days, Jill and I are holding down the fort! We have Sid and Michele right next door just in case we need anything, but we are having a blast! Especially with the dinghy rides!
Christmas is right around the corner, but i'm still finding it hard to get in the spirit. The toughest part of this trip is definitely being away from family. We will be celebrating with our harbor family, but it wont be the same.
By the way, if anyone wants to visit, we will be here until the end of January. Come on down!
Merry Christmas!!
Sunset at Lazy Days South, Marathon Marina

A big iguana

Another harbor sunset...can you hear the conch horns?

Monday, November 23, 2015

From Vero to The Keys

Our stay at Vero Beach, "Velcro Beach" as so many cruisers call it, was great. We can see why so many people arrive there and end up staying. The mooring field was just about full and we know that rafting is mandatory, so we chose to raft up with Links as soon as we got there. Thanksgiving is a big deal for cruisers in Vero and by the time we left there were at least 2 boats, sometimes 3 on each ball. We knew we would be staying 3 days, so we took our bikes to shore to make the most of our visit. We rode through the neighborhoods, up to the beach, to the farmer's market and even to church on Sunday. Another great thing about Vero is the bus that comes right to the marina. You could easily get to any store you may need. The hardest part is getting back on the bus with full backpacks and multiple bags in each hand! Bud and I also got some fishing in. We didnt catch anything for dinner, but I did catch the biggest catfish I've ever seen! The day before we left we ran into Cathy and Ed, whom we had met in Ft. Myers on our first trip. They invited us over for a potluck dinner, and since they upgraded their catamaran since we saw them last, dinner for 9 was no problem. It's always nice running into old friends, along with meeting new ones!

The next morning we traveled just over 40 miles to Peck Lake. This is a neat anchorage where we can dinghy to shore and walk the beach. This is where Jill and I found our first sea heart, sea beans of the trip!

The following morning started our "3 days of bridges". We had seven bridge openings on our way to Lake Worth, Palm Beach (not too bad). We arrived and anchored early enough to explore Peanut Island and enjoy our first snorkling. Just south of Vero Beach is where the water changes to the "pretty water"!

Traveling the next day to Lake Boca Raton, we had 12 bridge openings, and the following day to North Miami had another dozen. There is one bridge where we actually don't need an opening, but it was already open. We were obligated to call the bridgetender and let him know this, so he closed it. Even though I knew we would safely make it under, it was un-nerving to have a bridge closing on us.

Sometimes only half of the bridge is working, that's not so much fun either.
Luckily we were done with most of the bridges because we knew weather was coming in and we had a long 63 mile day from North Miami to Key Largo. So, that's where we are now and will probably be stuck here until Monday. It's an easy place to get to shore and everything we need is within a bike ride. We set a second anchor today for the heavier winds that are coming , but we are in a good spot. We are looking forward to celebrating Thanksgiving with Links with a full turkey dinner with all the trimmings. We have so much to be thankful for!


Sunday, November 15, 2015


We have finally made it to Florida! But let me recap the last few weeks...We have always enjoyed Georgia. Many beautiful islands, and there always seems to be an adventure waiting for us. We Stopped at St. Simon's Island and Fort Frederica and had a nice bike ride, and did some re-provisioning. The next island we stopped at was Cumberland Island. This was our first time visiting the north end of the island, But Tim and Jill had been there before so we followed their lead. Supposedly, there was an old mansion on the island, so we decided to go ashore and see if we could hike there. With the exception of some dock workers, we felt like we had the island to ourselves. Now, Jill would tell you we had a lovely stroll along the island...and I guess we did. I, on the other hand would describe it a little differently. I would say it was more of a hike on semi-open trails surrounded by wild animals! Ok, maybe not scary wild animals, but wild none the less.

One of the 3 wild horses we saw
"Wild" armadillo
When we were (hopefully) coming to the end of our walk, we came across a few fellows who explained to us why we had the island to ourselves. This was the weekend for the annual boar hunt and the island was closed! The nice, and well armed hunters promptly showed us the quickest way back to our dinghy, and we were on our way.

The next day we crossed into Florida and spent our first night in Fernandina Beach, Amelia Island. From there we stayed for a night at a free dock in Sister's Creek, Jacksonville. That is a great spot to meet a few more cruisers, and we ended up having an impromptu jambalaya dinner with everyone in our cockpit. Another great night!

Sister's Creek free dock

Next we headed to St. Augustine. We were lucky enough to be there for the annual Pirate Gathering again. I must say, this is where I met a bump in the road. My Grandma had a saying, "If it's not Jackson, it's Johnson" meaning that if one thing isn't going wrong it will be something else. Well, the boat was running well, so it was my turn. Friday night we ended up taking a trip to Flagler Hospital. No worries though, just a pesky kidney stone. The next few days were a bit uncomfortable but I was feeling better each day.

St. Augustine mooring field
The Fort
Two days later we were headed to Sunnyland, Melbourne Beach to see our friends, Maureen & Jimmy. Not only would there be one Gemini arriving, Links was coming too!
Our escort!
Links navigating the mangroves
We stayed 2 nights, and had a great time! And great things do happen in Sunnyland...I finally passed my kidney stone Wednesday night! Woo Hoo! Friday morning we departed for Vero Beach. We did end up with a stowaway though! Jimmy came for the day and we had a great sail!
Jimmy driving

We plan on staying in Vero until Tuesday morning, and then making the push towards Marathon! We're hoping the mooring field doesn't fill up before we get there, but I think we are making good time!

Will keep you posted!

Love the Birds of Paradise

Saturday, October 31, 2015

 After sitting out the weather for a day in Spooners Creek, which was a great place to reprovision, we continued our way south through North Carolina. We traveled 150 miles in the next 3 days and ended our NC trip at Oak Island. The company that Bud worked for last year owns Blue Water Point Marina there and they couldn't have been more accommodating! We had dockage, laundry, ice, the beach, and Sid, the manager even offered a vehicle to take to town if we needed anything. Even though the shallow water made for an interesting entrance, it was totally worth it. We arrived pretty early and were able to enjoy the day there. It was the first time in months that I could walk on the beach without setting up or breaking down a wedding arch.

Church Creek
The next day we crossed into South Carolina and had 3 nights in beautiful creeks. In Church Creek we actually saw a deer swimming through the anchorage! We've seen some wacky stuff, but that's one for the books! Our anchorage the next night was in Brickyard Creek, 5 miles north of Beaufort. That's where our smooth sailing caught a snag. After anchoring, well, rafting to Links for the night, Bud went through some of his usual checks. When it came to the outdrive oil, it didn't look good. There was definitely water in the oil. The problem was that it wasn't something that could be serviced while the boat was in the water. Fortunately, we have the most amazing, knowledgable and prepared buddy boat on the planet! Links to the rescue...AGAIN! Bud and Tim diagnosed the problem and not only did Tim have the spare parts we needed, but also knew of a great boatyard 4 miles away where we could get a haul out. Unfortunately, the boatyard was not answering their phone. We decided to pull in anyway, despite the full dock and no answer on the radio. We puttered around until we saw a guy on the dock who said he would go get the owner. In a few short hours SeaQuest was high and dry.

SeaQuest in the slings

Tim and Jill had continued on another mile to Lady's Island Marina where we had reservations, but in no time at all, Tim was back at the boatyard and ready to crack open our outdrive. Bud, Tim nor the mechanic had ever done this repair before, but give these guys a manual and a YouTube video and things get done! Two hours later we were ready to go back in the water...the only problem was that there was no water. The tide went out while we were in the lift so we had to wait until the next morning. Ordinarily, this situation would be less than comfortable - pouring rain and climbing up and down a ladder to get to the restroom (we emptied our water tanks, among a bunch of other heavy stuff, in case the boat needed to be blocked for a few days). It would have been a long damp night. Luckily, we have good friends that live a few miles down the road. The Murphys lived a few houses away when I was growing up, but since Mike and Mary moved south 20 years ago I only get to see them on rare occasions. This was definitely a treat - great friends, home cooked meals and a warm dry bed. Those of you who know the Murphys, know how lucky we were!

The next morning we headed back to the boatyard to get underway. Tim joined us just in case, but after motoring around a bit the guys were satisfied with the repairs and we settled into our slip at Lady's Island Marina. This marina is located close to everything a cruiser could need, and since it was raining, the loaner car came in handy for our grocery store run. Steve and Gloria, who run the marina are fantastic! Just don't let Steve talk you into betting anything on his card trick. I lost, and technically we should still be there. (I think he let me welch on the bet because judgement may have clouded by the moonshine!) It really is the kind of marina that sucks you in and makes you feel like you are "home". It's always a little sad leaving there, but the no-see-ums make it much easier! They are the most awful little creatures on the entire planet!


Georgia sunrise
Now we are in Georgia! So many dolphins along the way, but with that comes crazy tides and currents. We take the good with the bad, because the good is so good and the bad really isn't that bad!

Happy Halloween!