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23 June 2017

Bloggy Encounters On Boats


I've said it before and I'll say it again - blogging is a great way to meet (either in person or virtually) some really amazing people who share your same interests and passions.

Blogging is also a great way to procrastinate chores that you should be doing, but don't want to do, like cleaning out the bilge, raking the leaves or doing the dishes.

Fortunately, we live on a boat and not in a house, so I don't have to rake leaves. But there's a huge pile of dishes piled up in the galley and water and hair in the bilge which I really should be taking care of. So guess what I'm doing right now. Yep, you guessed it, writing blog posts.

{Random questions: Why do I shed so much hair? Why does all of it end up in the bilge? Should I start shaving my head like Scott does?}

After crossing the Gulf Stream from the Bahamas, we slowly made our way back to Indiantown Marina. We lazed about for a couple of days watching shows on the laptop, did a lot of cooking and spent a lot of time on the internet.

That's when I discovered that some folks I know through blogging were actually anchored near us. I've been in touch with Chris from Mangoes, Marley and Mermaids for a while now and she ad her husband actually keep their boat at Indiantown Marina, but we'd never actually met in person.

We had out dinghy up on deck and were too lazy to get it down and go over and visit, so instead of saying hello properly, we ended up "meeting" them on the water as we passed them heading up the ICW on our way back to Indiantown.

Saying hello while standing on deck was kind of a fun way to introduce ourselves and sort of exemplifies the cruising lifestyle to me - random encounters with fascinating people in the most unexpected locations.
 
 
Cruising Log | Thursday, 4 May 2017 – Sunday, 7 May 2017

4 MAY
Watched Empire Strikes Back in honor of May the 4th Be With You day. Tidied up boat. Cooked up a storm – hummus, curry chicken salad, onion bread and cookies. Bread not rising in oven. What’s the deal? Yeast proofed fine. First and second rising fine. Put it in the oven and you get something resembling hard tack at the end. S/V Radio Waves from Indiantown Marina came into the anchorage with their buddy boat, S/V Spirit. Nautical miles = Nil. Engine = Nil. Spending = Nil.

5 MAY
Rainy day. Binge watched Lost. Had to run the engine to power the batteries. Nautical miles = Nil, Engine = 1 hour 30 mins. Spending = Nil

6 MAY
Anchor up at 7:45 AM. S/V Radio Waves and S/V Spirit ahead of us. Noticed mysterious black ooze under one of the engine mounts. Reminded me of the X-Files. Anchored briefly in Peck Lake to check it out. Everything seemed okay, so we carried on. Checked out Manatee Pocket. Lots of boats and skinny water so we left. Anchor down at Pendarvis Cove at 3:30 PM. Made bread and cookies. Nautical miles = 37. Engine = 7 hours 45 mins. Spending = Nil.

7 MAY
Anchor up 9:10 AM. Good timing on St Lucie Lock – got there when they were just about to start lock. Anchor down on west side of the lock at 11:00 AM. Gas can started leaking in dinghy. Swell. Had to clean spill up and transfer gas to other containers. Made bread. Nautical miles = 6. Engine = 2 hours 15 mins. Spending = Nil.

Have you ever met a fellow blogger/vlogger/tweeter etc.? What was that like? Did you celebrate "May the 4th Be With You" day?

Internet connection has been really scarce lately while we've been cruising in the Bahamas, so apologies if it takes a while before we're able to respond to your comments and/or visit your blog.
 
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21 June 2017

Wordless Wednesday | Boo Boo Hill, Exuma Land & Sea Park



Wordless Wednesday is supposed to be about posting a photo(s) without any words. But, I'm a rule breaker, so here are a few words:

1 - Cruisers make signs out of driftwood with their boat names and leave them on top of Boo Boo Hill at the Exuma Land & Sea Park in the Bahamas.

2 - We recognized a few of the boat names, like S/V Banyan

3 - Some people put a lot of effort into their signs (like Banyan). Some people put for zero effort and don't even bother making a sign (that'd be us).

   
What words does this picture(s) bring to your mind when you look at it?

For more Wordless Wednesday fun, click here

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19 June 2017

Sailing In The Dark | Bright Lights & Stormy Weather


Those of you who have followed our blog for a while will know I'm a bit of a scaredy-cat. Alligators, sharks, being abducted by aliens, running out of chocolate chip cookies and sailing in the dark all freak me out.

Unfortunately, when you live on a sailboat and you want to get from the Bahamas to Florida or vice versa, inevitably you're going to have to do some night sailing.

You'd think I'd be used to this whole sailing in the dark thing by now. I did a bit when we cruised in New Zealand, I've crossed the Gulf Stream five times now and we've done some night passages in the Bahamas. But each and every time the sun starts to set, I start to get a wee bit worried.

Will a freighter run into us? Will a whale come up alongside our boat and capsize us? Will we run out of cookies before the sun comes up?

When we crossed back to Florida from the Bahamas to sort out our whole dinghy davit saga, things started out okay. The sun was shining, there weren't too many freighters in our path and I had enough snacks to keep going.

I bet you're thinking, this all sounds too good to be true. Hopefully, something exciting happened or this is going to be a very boring blog post to read.

Well, you're in luck. We did have a bit of excitement in the form of stormy weather and bright lights.

First, the weather gods had some fun with us. We started to hear all sorts of warnings about severe storms over our VHF when we were about 28 miles away from Lake Worth (our entry point into Florida).

We really didn't need to hear the warnings because we could see dark skies and a huge bank of lightening crackling across the water. It seriously was huge - a giant horizontal swath of lightening across the horizon.

Did I mention that lightening freaks me out? Especially when I'm on a boat with a giant metal rod sticking out of it. Sailors call it a mast, but we all know what it really is - a lightening attraction device.

We had to divert south to avoid the storm, adding hours to our passage. Good times.

Then the sun went down. Scott told me to go down into the aft cabin and try to take a nap. It's possible he was tired of me hanging out in the cockpit complaining about the lack of cookies on board. Regardless, if someone offers to keep watch while I take a nap, I'm going to say yes.

I settled in down below and had just closed my eyes, when a bright white light shone through the portlights.

This was a seriously bright light. Not moonlight or starlight or the lights from a passing boat. No, this was the kind of light that alien spaceships shine down on you right before they abduct you.

You'd be proud of me. I didn't scream. At least not out loud.

I ran up into the cockpit. After all, if they had abducted Scott, someone had to steer the boat.

Turns out it wasn't aliens. It was the Coast Guard. They sneaked up behind us without any running lights and then turned their giant spotlight on us.

Scott figured it was the Coast Guard. For some reason, he doesn't share my fear of alien abduction. I guess it's true, opposites do attract.

They told us to maintain our current course and speed and asked us the usual questions you'd expect - how many people on board (two), are you US citizens (yes), do you have any weapons on board (no), where are you going (Lake Worth), do you have any cookies (no), what was your last port of call (Mangrove Cay), are you going to clear in with Customs & Border Protection when you get to Lake Worth (yep) etc.

After following us for a while, checking out our details and shining their bright light on us a few more times, they slipped away into the night.

Eventually, we made it to Lake Worth after a very long passage and I added 7.5 hour of night sailing to my log book.
 
Cruising Log | Saturday, 29 April 2017 – Wednesday, 3 May 2017
 
29 APRIL
Woke up to find four charter cats hovering nearby. Think we anchored in their usual spot where they take the punters. Anchor up 9:00 AM. Anchor down at 2:00 PM at Allans-Pensacola Cay. Anchorage bigger than I remembered. Nautical miles = 26. Engine = 45 mins. Spending = Nil.

30 APRIL
Our dinghy, Boo Boo, kept crashing into our boat all night long. Very annoying of her. Anchor up at 9:00 AM. Anchor down at 3:00 PM at Great Sale Cay. Nautical miles = 35. Engine = 1 hour. Spending = Nil.

1 MAY
Anchor up at 8:00 AM. Anchor down at 12:00 PM at Mangrove Cay. Put Boo Boo up on deck for the Gulf Stream Crossing. She’s a heavy girl and a real pain to maneuver into place, but we got her there in the end. Sure makes you appreciate having functional dinghy davits. Nautical miles = 22. Engine = 1 hour. Spending = Nil.

2-3 MAY
Anchor up at 8:30 AM. Very lumpy once we got past Memory Rock, but settled down later. Saw a few freighters during the day. About 28 nautical miles from Lake Worth started seen dark clouds to north and west. Storm warnings for hail, tornados, gusts up to 70 MPH onshore. Continued on course for a while, then saw a bank of extensive lightening stretching out over the water. Diverted south and then gradually back west once saw storm breaking up. Lots of freighters at night. Some seemed to come very close to us. Coast Guard encounter about 7 nautical miles from Lake Worth. Anchor down in Lake Worth at 3:15 AM. Cracked open a couple of beers (yes, beer at 3:15 AM), called Customs & Border Protection to clear in and then off to sleep. Moved over to North Lake Work later that afternoon. Ordered new dinghy davit from Kato Marine and arranged for slip at Indiantown Marina. Nautical miles = 90. Engine = 11 hours. Spending = Nil. Crossing time = 18 hours 45 mins. Night sailing = 7.5 hours.

Have you ever been stopped by the Coast Guard or other law enforcement officer? What was your experience like? Have you ever been abducted by aliens? What was that like?


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16 June 2017

Fixing Things In Exotic Places | The Never-Ending Dinghy Davit Saga

There’s a saying that fixing things in exotic places is what cruising on a sailboat is all about. Being in exotic places is somehow supposed to make up for the fact that stuff on your boat always breaks.

Remember how our dinghy davit broke while we were cruising in the Bahamas? Remember how we were stuck in Marsh Harbour waiting to see if we could get it repaired?

No? Can't say that I blame you. I've been trying to forget about our never-ending dinghy davit saga too.

Here’s a little picture to remind you. This is the thing we needed welded.



So, here’s what I want to know – is Marsh Harbour considered an exotic place?
  
After hanging about there for a week, it sure didn't feel exotic. Just another town that happens to be in the Bahamas.

The roads weren't all that exotic. Sure, they drive on the left-hand side of the road, but we're used to that having lived in Scotland and New Zealand. It seemed normal.


The ice cream bars were delicious, but nothing out of the ordinary.


The local boatyard and marina looked like...well, like a boatyard and marina you might find in Florida.


Upcoming elections meant that there were signs everywhere. Similar to the political signs you might find in during election season back in the States.


Trying to get a quote on the welding work we needed done took forever. That definitely didn't feel exotic. Just like back home, trying to chase up people and have them get back to you.

It kind of reminded me of our expat days. When we first moved to Scotland and then to New Zealand, we'd be in awe of everything. It was all so exotic, different, fascinating, new etc. at the beginning. Then after a while, it all became routine.

That's what sitting and waiting in Marsh Harbour for a week started to become - nothing exciting, just routine. Get up, send some emails, binge watch some shows, eat some food and go snorkeling. Okay, that last part's pretty cool - being able to snorkel off of a beach at Marsh Habour. You might even say exotic.

For those of you on the edge of your seat wanting to know what happened with the dinghy davit, we did find a welder in the end, but then the base sheared off, more damage was found on the davit and it didn't make sense to repair it. More details below in the Cruising Log.

 
Cruising Log | Wednesday, 26 April 2017 – Friday, 28 April 2017

26 APRIL
More emails about the davit situation. Went snorkeling at Mermaid Reef. Made bread. Had Carl from Northern Star over for sundowners. Nautical miles = Nil. Engine hours = Nil. Spending = Nil.

27 APRIL
Walked up to the welder’s. Finally managed to get a quote. Higher than expected, plus can’t fit us in right away. Got ice cream sandwiches at Maxwell’s to console ourselves. Only 81 cents each! Full of chemicals, but oh so delicious. Went to the hardware store, got tip about another welder, the Prop Shop. Got quote on the spot and they’re able to start right away. Things are looking up! More snorkeling at Mermaid Reef. Nautical miles = Nil. Engine hours = Nil. Spending = $5.12

28 APRIL
Took solar panel off. Tried to get davit off, then pin on base sheared off. Discovered more damage on davit. Welding it now out of the question, given the extent of repair of required. Now, not only do we need a new davit, but we also need a new base. Shipping cost prohibitive to the Bahamas, not to mention a pain to get through customs. Made decision to head back to the States and replace davit and base there. Jerry-rigged the davit back on. Put solar panel back up. Stowed outboard in lazarette. Anchor up at 2:00 PM. Sailed through Whale Cay Cut and anchored at No Name Cay at 6:00 PM. Nautical miles = 21. Engine hours = .75. Spending = Nil.

What do you consider to be exotic? Have you ever become jaded and blase about your surroundings? What's the most exotic place you've been to or would like to go to?

Internet connection has been really scarce lately while we've been cruising in the Bahamas, so apologies if it takes a while before we're able to respond to your comments and/or visit your blog.
 
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14 June 2017

Wordless Wednesday | Strange Mail








Wordless Wednesday is supposed to be about posting a photo(s) without any words. But, I'm a rule breaker, so here are a few words:

1 - When we were back at Indiantown Marina, we got the strangest letter in the mail.

2 - It was sent anonymously. I think I know who it's from. At least I hope so. It's one thing to get strange mail from people you know and quite another to get it from people you don't.

3 - I can't remember the last time I got something in the mail that wasn't junk or a bill.

   
What words does this picture(s) bring to your mind when you look at it?

For more Wordless Wednesday fun, click here

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12 June 2017

Morning Coffee | Random Thoughts & Oddities



Paul at Lat43 does these hysterical Morning Tea blog posts which are a brain dump of whatever pops into his head while he's writing them. I decided to steal his idea. Except, I'm drinking coffee while I write this and he drinks tea, so it isn't really stealing, is it?

So, here we go - all of the random nonsense floating through my head while I sip on my morning coffee.

  • My legs are always covered with bruises from banging into things on the boat. Scott never bruises, but he always seems to be cutting himself. He’s completely oblivious to the fact that there’s blood running down his arm or leg. “Uh, dude, there’s blood dripping on the floor.” He’ll look down, shrug his shoulders and grab a paper towel to stop the bleeding. Does this happen with other couples – one person bruises and the other bleeds?
 
  • We’ve been carrying trash around in our v-berth for three weeks now. It’s starting to smell despite the lavender-scented garbage bags I used. Seriously, who knew you could get scented garbage bags? What will they think of next? By the way, the combination of lavender and rotting trash, not so good.
 
  • I finally used the butternut squash that’s been stored in our v-berth for months. It was still good and made a nutritious addition to some chipotle lentil and red pepper soup I was making. The trash could learn a lot from the squash about how to put up with being stored in the v-berth without making a big stink about it. 
 
  • The weather has been great while we’ve been cruising in the Exumas. I probably shouldn’t have said that. The weather gods have heard me and are probably hatching up evil plans having to do with high winds and torrential downpours. Quick, find some wood to knock on before I completely jinx us. Come on everyone, all at the same time - knock, knock, knock. Hopefully that will do the trick.
 
  • We snorkeled over a sunken plane the other day. I thought the fish swimming around inside it and the coral growing on top of it was pretty neat until Scott told me that there was a shark nearby. To my credit, I didn’t do my usual flapping around and screaming routine. I guess that’s some sort of progress in the whole shark paranoia thing I have going on. Although, in my books, sharks = justifiable paranoia. 
 
  • Some friends of ours had a rat swim over and board their boat during a big squall up in the Abacos. That would be my worst nightmare. No, actually, my worst nightmare would be a shark giving a ride on his back to a rat and ferrying him over to our boat. 
 
  • I only have two books left to read on board. I need to find a book exchange pronto and trade out some of my paperbacks for new ones. 
 
  • I love our wind scoop. It was a gift from some friends. One of the best gifts ever. {For those not in the know, and why should you be, I didn’t know what a wind scoop was until we got into boating, a wind scoop is made out of nylon fabric which you tie up over your hatch and which directs the wind down and into your cabin and keeps you from getting hot, sweaty and cranky at night when you’re trying to sleep.}
 
  • We’ve gotten a little blasé about homemade bread. Who would have thought that freshly baked bread would become so routine?
 
  • We’re out of crackers. 
 
  • If you take a can of chicken salad, doctor it up with minced onion, garlic and curry powder, Scott will eat it. He’s not a big chicken salad fan, so I consider this a victory. It’s good on crackers.
 
  • Did I mention that we’re out of crackers?
 
  • Someone underestimated how many crackers we would go through.
 
  • On the bright side, we have more than enough coffee to last us for the next few months. Coffee is probably more important than crackers.
 
  • Speaking of which, it’s time for a coffee refill, so I’ll leave you with one last thought…buy more crackers than you think you’ll need. 

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09 June 2017

Killing Time In Marsh Harbour, Bahamas


How do you kill time when you’re waiting for something? Do you twiddle your thumbs? Do you stare out the window? Do you binge watch TV? Do you take a lot of long naps? Do you read? Do you make treats?

We did all of the above while we waited in Marsh Harbour in the hopes of getting our broken dinghy davit sorted. Well, except the thumb twiddling. I never did get the point of that. It’s a lot like thumb wrestling, except without the satisfaction of winning something. Or the distraction of getting your thumb squashed.

It’s fair to say that Marsh Harbour isn’t our favorite spot in the Abacos. It’s a great place to stock up on groceries, propane, supplies and, theoretically, get some welding done. But other than that, there aren’t a lot of distractions, especially when the weather is crappy.

So we binge watched some Lost, read some books, stared at other boats and took naps when the excitement of it all got too overwhelming.

Those of you who live on land probably binge watch TV without a care in the world. You press a button on the remote and the TV comes on. Occasionally, you press the pause button and go to the fridge to get a snack. You watch episode after episode without worrying about whether electricity is going to stop flowing from the plug to the TV.

It’s a little different on our sailboat. When we watch TV shows, we have to check out battery monitor periodically to make sure we have enough power to watch the next episode and find out whether Kate chooses Jack or Sawyer.

When the sun is shining and our solar panel is mounted on our dinghy davit, we gets lots of juicy amps flowing freely to our batteries. We get up from time to time to adjust the angle of the panel to follow the sun as it moves from east to west.

Sadly, with our broken dinghy davit, we had to temporarily mount our solar panel on top of our aft cabin.



Two problems with this:

1 - It covered the hatch which meant we couldn’t get air freely flowing into the cabin. Heat makes some of us cranky.

2 - We couldn’t angle the panel to get maximum sun exposure. Less juicy amps flowing in meant making difficult choices – run the fridge or watch Lost.

Then things got worse. The clouds and rain moved in and cut off our supply of sunshine. This was getting serious. Were we going to be stuck with a fridge full of warm beer and rotting meat and never find out why Desmond kept pushing that button?!

Fortunately, our handy Honda generator came to the rescue.


We got it this year for exactly this reason. We knew a day would come when the sun would stop shining. We plugged it in to our shore power and charged our batteries. More Lost! More cold beer! Less chance of dying from eating tainted meat! It’s the little things that count.

****

Cruising Log | Saturday, 22 April 2017 – Tuesday, 25 April 2017
 
22 APRIL
Dropped my breakfast burrito on the floor. Had to settle for a granola bar instead. Did some baking. Limited solar power, so ran generator for a while. Nautical miles = Nil. Engine hours = Nil. Spending = Nil.

23 APRIL
Rained all day. Read and binge watched Lost. Had to run generator again. Made soup and bread. The soup was awful. The bread wasn’t awful. Big squall came through late at night. Gusts around 50 knots. Turned on engine and prepared to take action if we dragged anchor. Nautical miles = Nil. Engine hours = 2.75. Spending = Nil.

24 APRIL
Contacted welder and Kato Marine regarding broken dinghy davit. Watched a guy get his bitch wings on while someone anchored next to them. Nautical miles = Nil. Engine hours = Nil. Spending = Nil.

25 APRIL
Figured out way to put solar panel back up on broken davit. So nice to be able to get lots of juicy amps from the sun. More emails about davit. Checked out an Asian market run by a guy names Johnny Cash. Went to Maxwell’s. Tried to make Bahamian mac n’cheese. Failed experiment. Very disappointing. Got an email from a blog follower anchored next to us. Made plans to meet up. Nautical miles = Nil. Engine hours = Nil. Spending = $18.04 (ground beef, carrots, cheese, tonic water, milk)

Do you ever worry about having enough power for your needs? What’s the last show you binge watched? Do you like thumb wrestling?

Internet connection has been really scarce lately while we've been cruising in the Bahamas, so apologies if it takes a while before we're able to respond to your comments and/or visit your blog.
 

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