Monday, December 16, 2013

Yes, we're still alive.......

...and we're still having fun! I know its been a while since our last update, so let me try to remember what's been going on. We left Lake Worth, Palm Beach and headed to Boca Raton. One of Bud's customers was nice enough to let us stay at their dock, even though they weren't home. After a long day on the water and 11 bridge openings we were happy to be secured at the dock.

The next morning we were off again, Miami bound! But the weather didn't cooperate and we were forced to stop in South Lake, right off the ICW, around 2:00. There were just too many bridge openings to maneuver any more in the pouring rain. We had already done 13 bridges in 6 hours! Of course a few hours after we were anchored the sun came out again. We are not ones to sit and waste a sunny afternoon, so we hopped in the dinghy and found a happy hour at the closest waterside restaurant.

We had a short day planned for the next day, just a few hours to Miami to meet up with our buddy boat Links! We arrived in Sunset Lake, anchored and still had plenty of time to explore South Beach.

The next day we sailed through Biscayne Bay and stopped at Boca Chica for a few hours. It was a great little park with the cutest light house ever! We were officially in The Keys!

After exploring the small island for a while we moved on to Sands Key for the night. This is where we enjoyed probably the most stunning sunset of our trip so far.

We made our way down the Keys with stops in Key Largo and Islamorada. In Key Largo we did our first snorkeling and we were also treated to a free dolphin show at the dolphin training center there.
We stayed 2 days at Key Largo and then 2 more at Islamorada. While we were anchored, we decided that since we had passed hundreds of crab pots on our way through Florida, there must be tons of crabs around, so we dropped our crab pot. Well, we didn't catch any crabs.

This is what we caught in out crab trap! A nurse shark....what? Isn't that what everybody catches in their crab trap? We also saw some huge manatees and tarpon.
We left Islamorada and headed to the outside, and came down Hawk Channel. The winds started out strong, but then dropped down to a few knots. It was a bit swelly so we started the engine and motor-sailed most of the way to Marathon.
We arrived in Marathon, our home port for the month. We picked up a mooring ball in Boot Key Harbor, at the City Marina. There are almost 300 mooring balls here, and it is like it's own little community. There are showers and laundry facilities, a boaters lounge with internet, a workshop, mail delivery, and it is within biking distance to any store we might need. I can see why some people came for a few days and are still here several years later.
We ran into some friends that we had met back in the Dismal Swamp. There's just some people that you come across and feel like you've known your whole life. Tim, Jill, Beth and John are those people. Maybe it's the Gemini connection!
So, we are definitely making the most of our trip and enjoying every minute, even when it rains!
It's been a little hard to get into the Christmas spirit for me, being so far away from family, but Bud is trying to make the best of it!
 He was a big hit in the Lighted Boat parade, and even won some gift certificates! So, that's about all that's been going on with us. People ask us exactly what we do all day, and sometimes its hard to say. All I know is that we are happy, relaxing, and enjoying our time until we have to come home and work. At least I think we're still coming home!
Love, Jen & Bud


Friday, November 29, 2013

Ft. Pierce


We left Melbourne Beach on an overcast morning. Maureen and Jimmy escorted us through the maze of mangrove canals and out to the channel. Not ten minutes after they left us the skies opened up. It rained pretty much all day, but it was still 75deg, so it wasn't uncomfortable. We arrived in Faber Cove, Ft. Pierce pretty soggy, but it was a great little anchorage. The next day we took our bikes to shore. Our bicycles are probably one of our most important purchases we made for this trip. It is such a great way to explore a town, not to mention re-provision and do laundry. We joined a few fellow cruisers for a walk on the beach and a happy hour drink, then we had a quick visit from a friend from home. George was delivering a boat (by trailer) to Florida and met us for dinner on his way home. We love having visitors from home, so anybody reading this...come on down!

We really did have a lot of fun in Ft. Pierce. We were there almost a week and we squeezed a lot in despite a few rainy days. We also met some great people. Tim and Bill from Chicago are two that I'm sure we will see again somewhere along the line. We spent a few happy hours together and that was all it took to become fast friends. They also took us to dinner and aboard this really awesome 76' yacht. But that's not why we like them, they were just two regular (and funny) guys.

While in Ft. Pierce we also walked, rode bikes a lot, got a few zippers fixed on our enclosure, helped another cruiser fix his outboard, shared our fresh fish with 2 teenage boys who sailed from Toronto and took a tour around Hutchinson Island with Malcolm, the dock master at a nearby marina. We wrapped up our week there with laundry, provisioning and one last happy hour with the guys.

Oh my gosh, I almost forgot the most exciting part of our stay in Ft. sea bean! I believe it floated all the way from Africa! We also found a sea urchin shell and nickernuts (the little gray marble looking ones)!

When we left Thursday morning, was 47 degrees! The sun came out though and it warmed up to 70. After 48 miles and 7 bridge openings we anchored in Lake Worth, Palm Beach for the night and enjoyed our turkey chicken dinner with all the trimmings. It may not have been our traditional Thanksgiving, but the spirit of the holiday was not lost on us. Not only on this holiday, but daily we are reminded how much we have to be thankful for. Especially our super-supportive family and friends who we miss so much! I hope everyone had a Thanksgiving as wonderful as ours!

PS -  Mom, if you are keeping track, we got in 2 strangers cars this week!

Love, Jen & Bud

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Ahhh, the resort life....

Well, not really, but it felt like it! We are lucky enough to have friends with a house in Melbourne Beach, and we really lucked out that they arrived there for a visit the night before we did! Once again we were having some minor engine trouble so we happy to pull into a dock. When we tried to leave our anchorage in Cape Canaveral the engine wouldn't start. After troubleshooting and narrowing down the problem, we discovered it was in the solenoid, yup, the one we just replaced a few weeks ago! After a quick call to our friends on Links, (they had abandoned left us earlier that morning) we came up with a plan. Whack it with a hammer! So, 5 minutes later we were on our way.  Toward the end of the day, our gauges started acting up again. Ughhh! Luckily we had an escort into the creek, because there is no way to make it in without local knowledge. What a beautiful creek filled with mangroves and tons of sea birds.

Once we were docked and had time to think about it, the gauge problem turned out to be an easy fix, phew! Now, we just had to replace the solenoid...again. We ordered the part and also found a mechanic that could fix our outboard. It hasn't been running right since the day we bought it, so we had to take advantage of the opportunity to have it checked out. The weather wasn't going to be ideal for cruising anyway, so we settled in for a stay at the "Mauro Resort". This place had it all! We kayaked, explored, paddle boarded, biked, walked, fished, shopped, ate, provisioned, did laundry, played games, and laughed! Maureen and I took a lovely nature walk. And by lovely I mean scary and heart pounding! After we saw our first snake, we could hardly hold a conversation. We were too busy looking and listening for other critters. I think we saw 4 snakes in the woods, and I ran one over on our bike ride back. That wasn't the end of the snakes either, we also saw one on our walk up to the beach. Oh yeah, Bud had a snake run-in too! The unfortunate thing was that it was on our boat!

Bud came walking off the boat and said "We have a problem!".  My first thought was, oh no, the toilet broke! But as he came closer he said "No, SNAKE!! I killed it." Now, I know how much Bud hates snakes, so I immediately felt so proud of him. He was defending our home! Then I said, "So, where is it?".  He held out a wadded up napkin. That was it? This was about the real size of the "snake" he found...

So, out came the blue tarp and we emptied the entire contents of the boat to make sure there were no other critters on board.

Maureen and Jimmy were the perfect hosts, and we can't thank them enough! Whatever we needed, they helped us out. They carted us all over creation, and even helped us with a massive provisioning trip to Publix in the pouring rain. We replaced our solenoid, no problem. We got our outboard back and it purrs like a kitten! Hopefully the weather will cooperate as we continue heading south.

Although it is tough to leave the resort life we have been enjoying! Thanks again guys!

~ Jen & Bud

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

F L O R I D A !

SeaQuest has arrived! (Along with Capt'n and crew) After a bit of a jaunty sail from Cumberland Island, Georgia, we are here! We spent our first night in Florida on Sister's Creek in Jacksonville. Not just in Jacksonville, but at a dock. Not just any dock, a FREE dock! Cruiser's bonus! We always sleep well at a dock, and it makes it much easier to unload the bikes to explore. It is also more convenient for cruisers to meet and get together. We did take a nice bike ride, but there wasn't much to see in the part of town we were in. We did manage to find the local dive bar (don't we always?). Since we don't spend enough time on a boat, we decided to take the ferry across the St. Johns River. There wasn't much to see on the other side either, but we got our exercise for the day.

The next morning we were southbound again. Next stop.....

St. Augustine

Not a bad place to wait out some weather. We knew it was gonna blow pretty hard, so we got a mooring ball at the municipal marina. That's right, a full service marina. Fuel, water, laundry and long hot showers! Did I mention the pirates? The city was crawling with more swashbucklers than I have ever seen. Turns out our visit coincided with one of the east coast's largest "Pirate Gatherings" complete with sword fights, cannons and wenches. These people are serious about their pirating!

While in town we also visited the fort, Castillo de San Marcos. So much history in this city, not to mention tons of great shops and restaurants. It was a  beautiful city to celebrate our 17th anniversary in.

Every morning we wake up and pinch ourselves. We cant believe that we are lucky enough to be doing what we have always talked about doing. I guess we will continue doing our best, having a blast and living our least until the "cruising kitty" is empty!

~ Jen & Bud

Monday, November 4, 2013

We're so close....

We can see Florida, but it will be another day or two before we get there. We are certainly making the most out of our last few days in Georgia though. We spent 2 nights in Fort Frederica, on St. Simon's Island.
It was a neat little fort with great history and beautiful grounds. The trees alone were amazing.
We spent the day exploring on our bikes. We ended up riding about 15 miles, but it was a great day for it. On our way back to the boat we stopped in a local pub. Dollar beers and free buffet...a cruiser's dream! Being the huge sports fans that we are (ha-ha), we didn't realize there was a Georgia / Florida football game going on, but apparently it's a huge rivalry and the state practically shuts down. So for an hour, and free food, we too were Georgia fans!
Sunday morning we were on the move again. Another long, but beautiful day.
This submarine had just returned to Kings bay Naval Submarine Base. The picture doesn't do it justice, but it was really cool to see all the people on the dock waiting for their loved ones.
We anchored at Cumberland Island, and this morning we went ashore to check out the National Park. Another beautiful piece of Georgia history. We started by walking across the island to the ocean. There is tons of wildlife here. Some of it we are glad we saw, like the wild horses and turkeys.

Some we were not so thrilled to run into like the several snakes we ran across, including a huge rattlesnake!
Some of the ones we missed were the wild hogs and the bobcats, but that's ok, we had our fill of wildlife for the day.
While walking on the beach I found my first sand dollar, and while walking the crushed shell/sand paths I found 2 sharks teeth!
By the end of the day Bud was ready to sign on as a Ranger.
I'm not sure if we will be moving on tomorrow or not, there's a bit of a blow going on here, but before you know it we will be Florida bound!
~ Jen & Bud

Thursday, October 31, 2013

What a difference a year makes...

This was the view from our cockpit a year ago, thanks to Sandy.

We were lucky and made out fine. Many friends and family didn't, and a year later are still affected by the devastation and trying to rebuild. Like I said, we were lucky and still are. This is the view from our cockpit these days.

We had a long 54 mile cruise into Charleston, and planned on staying 2 nights. After fueling up, we anchored out across from the Charleston Megadock.  Wow, just when you thought you've seen some big yachts, you see this guy...Rising Sun.

The next day we spent biking around the beautiful city. We found a great farmers market where we picked up some fresh bread and veggies. That night we enjoyed an excellent seafood dinner at the Fleet Landing Restaurant. Our kids had given us a gift certificate, and we thoroughly enjoyed our date night.
Two days after leaving Charleston we pulled into Lady's Island Marina. Lady's Island is just across from Beaufort, and it's where we planned on meeting up with The Murphy's, who live there. It was so great to see familiar faces! Mary took me food shopping, and for the first time in a long time I used a full sized cart...and I filled it up! Mike ran some boat errands for Bud, and even called his mechanic to help us finally fix our gauge problems! On top of helping us out all day they had us over for a delicious home cooked meal! I'm always sad to say goodbye to the Murphy's, but we will be back before you know it.
So now we are on our way through Georgia. Since Charleston, we have been back together with our buddy boat and it's been great. We keep telling them to let us know when they've had their fill of us, but they must be glutton for punishment. Bud and Tim can talk technical boat stuff for hours, while Jill and I talk about the important things like dolphins and beads and things.
Well, by my calculations, at the end of today we will have travelled 1026 miles, and I must say we have enjoyed every single one of them! I can only imagine what the next few months will bring, but we're ready. I might even get Bud to relax a little bit!
With views like this, how could he not...
~ Jen & Bud

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Since we last checked in...

We left our anchorage at Spooner's Creek, and headed for Topsail Sound, NC. We had to pass through Camp LeJeune for about 6 miles. That's where we saw 2 of the coolest things we've seen so far. The first was a line of amtracks waiting to cross the channel. I called them tanks, but was swiftly corrected by my Marine Corps brother. Whatever they were called, they were cool. I guess its like a military duck boat.
Then, not ten minutes later, we were entertained by a huge group of dolphins, playing and jumping in the water. One swam along our boat for a minute, and if I had had my legs hanging over the side he would have bumped them when he surfaced. It was so neat! Of course I didn't get any pictures of the dolphins, I don't know what my problem is, I just cant get one.

Carolina Beach, NC
The next few days were uneventful. We did meet back up with our friends on Links at Wrightsville Beach, and then continued on together to Carolina Beach the following day. That's where we put our feet in the Atlantic Ocean for the first time since leaving Jersey. The next day found us in Calabash Creek, SC. The town of Calabash is actually NC, so the state line must have been somewhere along our dinghy ride to shore.

Leaving Links again
Our friends were staying in Calabash for another day, so we were up and out early in the morning. It was chilly and drizzly, but the plan was to keep heading south. "They" always say, have a plan B, C and D because things rarely go as planned. We are certainly fine with that and always have plenty of options. But then there's some things that just come up. Or go down, in this case. After going only about 7 miles, we noticed one of our gauges went down...again. We just happened to be passing a condo complex with an entirely empty dock. We pulled right in and tied up. Within a few hours, and a few bike rides into town, the problem was solved (we think)! I guess I'm learning to appreciate the uneventful days. The weather was pretty yucky anyway, so we decided to stay the night. We walked into town and enjoyed some wings and a game of pool at a local saloon. And thanks to Carolina Yacht Landing for the free dock for the night! (I don't think anyone even knew we were there!)

Waccamaw River

The next morning we joined the parade of boats heading down the Waccamaw River. It was a great day. We are finding that so far every day has been a great day. As one of our good friends put it, It's not a vacation we are on, we chose to live a different lifestyle. It certainly beats going to work every day, but it is work, and it is exhausting! But we are appreciating every aspect of this trip.

Our only friends in the creek, the turtles.
Last night we were anchored in Cow House Creek all by ourselves. We loved it, and I'm pretty sure I won the owl hooting contest. Tonight we are in Minum Creek with one other boat, so I guess that means Bud has to shower inside!

Hopefully we will get an early start tomorrow and make it to Charleston, but you never know!