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!

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Quick Update

A week ago we finally got out of Chesapeake City. We took advantage of the clear weather and calm water and headed down the Chesapeake Bay. We would have loved to spend more time in the bay, especially stopping to visit with friends and family, but having lost so much time to weather, we had to keep pressing south.

We met up with our buddy boat, Links, and were in Norfolk before we knew it. After sitting out a little bit more squirrelly weather, we left Norfolk.

On our last trip we took the Dismal Swamp Canal. It was a beautiful trip through Virginia and into North Carolina, but this trip we decided to take the Virginia Cut. It will also allow us to stop at new places that we haven't been before.

Ok, it's been a few days since I wrote, but I think I finally figured out to to get pictures onto my post from my iPad! Hopefully now I can do shorter posts with a few more pics!

We are now in Bogue sound, just past Beaufort, NC. We had a few rough days on the way down. A lot of people think that the ICW (Intracoastal Waterway) is a nice easy ride, and for the most part it is. There are a few sounds that do need crossing though, and they are large open water bodies. The Albermarle sound was a tough one, and our second day on the Pamlico wasn't the greatest either. It's amazing how conditions can change day to day. The reason I have time to write this right now is because we are waiting out more heavy winds. We do want to get south, but we also want to be comfortable and enjoy the journey. We are lucky that we have traveling partners that feel the same way!

Just a few random pics from along the way.

Great morning!
First good dolphin pic!
Captain, my Captain!
Links at the end of the rainbow! (They ARE worth their weight in gold!)
Beautiful start to our not so fun day on the Pamlico! 
Kaya hasn't jumped ship yet! 

Saturday, October 3, 2015


September 28, 2015

Well, after a week of trying to leave the dock, we finally did it! The weather hadn't been cooperating but we figured that this was our best chance for a semi-smooth ocean passage. At 6:40 AM we left the marina, quite unlike when we departed two years ago. There was no farewell breakfast, no friends and family waving from the dock and no Mesipek filled with our kids escorting us out of the creek. I think we said goodbye to family so many times in the past week they figured there was a good possibility that we wouldn't be leaving anyway. But we did. We did have one visitor before we left. Our friend dropped off a farewell gift which is the most beautiful handmade cheeseboard I've ever seen. Thanks again George! 

As we motored towards and through the canal, through the Manasquan River and towards the inlet, we discussed our plan. We checked weather reports, wind forecasts, etc., and decided we would go all the way to Cape May. Heading out the inlet our favorite sailing song, "Southern Cross" came on the radio and we were assured that it was a sign of a great day ahead! 

Then...we hit the ocean. I am not a fan of big swells, but I am a positive thinker – "I can handle this for a while, all the reports say that the wind and seas would lay down after a little bit." By 10:00am I was convinced I didn't have my sea legs yet and let's just say I did a little chumming  for the next few hours. My positive outlook began to falter, but if there is anything I am sure of, it's my Captain and our boat. SeaQuest can handle anything you throw at her – 6' to 8' swells (that's what the captain called them) 10' to 12' swells (that's what I called them), I'm sure it was somewhere in the middle. And no matter how many times I asked Bud "Are you sure you're OK with this?" He always responded with a smile and a confident "Yup". So I had no choice but to start feeling a little better.

It was a long day…a very long day…and evening. Kaya was a trooper all day until one bout of projectile vomiting around 8:00 PM, then back to sleep. We finally arrived in Cape May and anchored around midnight. With the exception of one pod of dolphins, and the realization that our adventure was finally beginning, the day was not the best. But this is what we signed up for and tomorrow will always be better! And it was! 

Up early the next morning and through the Cape May Canal, the Delaware river was beautiful! After a not so wonderful day on the ocean we were thrilled. The sun was shining and the winds were light. We put up the screecher (our biggest sail) and didn't look back. We rode the current all the way up the river and into the C&D Canal.

And here we sit, in a safe anchorage in Chesapeake City, MD, for days just waiting out the storm. 
It's ok though, now we have time to fix a few issues that occurred on day one. We are having some (amazing) friends bring up some parts needed for an exhaust leak on our engine, and troubleshooting Otto (our autopilot). 

You know what they say cruising is...fixing your boat in exotic places. Not sure how exotic MD is, but we are on our way!

Looking forward to heading south!