EVEN NOW; WITH A THOUSAND LITTLE VOYAGES UNDER MY BELT.
I STILL FEEL A MEMORIAL CHILL ON CASTING OFF.
-E.B. White

Friday, March 30, 2012

Great Migration North has begun


Just back from a five day stint at the Wrinkle Ranch in Queen Valley, AZ (my parents winter home) celebrating my Mom's 80th Birthday.  I have been complaining lately about the humidity in Florida - turns out humidity is not so bad after all -  I felt like a California raisin by the time I left.  My sister Joni also flew in for the event and my cousin Karen was spending the winter there so besides the big birthday party it, was a nice family reunion. 

Deb's beautiful mother on her 80th Birthday. She is definitely my role model and mentor.  She believes in just doing it!  


Just our luck - one of my parent's friends was celebrating his 85th birthday - so we decided to combine the two parties (they have the same group of friends so it makes sense - and that sharing the cost thing wasn't too bad either).

On one of my morning hikes - I discovered this beautiful cactus in bloom - of, course I did not have my camera with.  When I got to my parents house my dad said if you are going to get a picture you need to do it now -  It's a night blooming cactus and the flowers don't last very long into the day.  It produces large flowers that start opening at night and then fizzle out by mid-day.  So off we went with our cameras - incredible blooms  

In all the years I have been visiting this area I have never been fortunate enough to be here for this display of grandeur.
I love it here - the palm trees, the cactus, the mountains - the only grass I saw was on the golf course - most people here just rake their rock yard - no grass to maintain.
The desert was just starting to bloom  -  very pretty this time of year.

This stuff grows like weeds 

Soon every one of these buds will be in bloom.

Pink and yellow flowers on the same cacti - I thought they were fake, but evidently the pink petals fall off and then the yellow centers make another flower?  It's magic
   
This cactus has all kinds of sexy stuff going on.  Seriously - look at it for awhile. Your welcome.

The night I got home (midnight thirty) Izzy couldn't wait to show me her catch of the days.  Our marina is near the Club Med Tennis Courts.  Everyday when she and Pops walked she found another ball (or sometimes a sponge - yuk) and bring them back to the boat. No rules while Mom is away - Also everyone in the marina knows she loves tennis balls - so  they would bring her one thinking she needed one.  
  Really how many can you do at once?

I woke up in the morning to find our good friends on Big Run anchored off of our stern.  They motored into our marina, we set a departure date of Friday the 30th, we re provisioned and our next adventure is about to happen.


The great migration north begins. Broulee and Big Run back together again.  We have not done the East Coast since 2003 - thank you to all our East Coast friends for their updated input - Take Time wish you were coming north with us.  For Broulee it's Maine or Bust.  We will keep you posted.  Seriously Drift Away we are headed your way!
"Adventurers do occur, but not punctually" -  E.M. Forster


Sunday, March 18, 2012

Happy St. Patrick's Day - Belated

Found this picture of my Dad from the 70's - he was quite the Wild Irish Gent.  Luck O' the Irish, he was blessed with three fiery spirited daughters and four fiery spirited granddaughters - may the saints protect thee!

Happy St. Patty's day Dad

Enjoying our time at Sandpiper Marina - kind of a laid back, salty down to earth place.  No frills and no rules.   Everyone is a little bit lax on the leash thing - so Izzy is allowed to be on the docks without hers, so she is loving that.  Deb loves that we can hang clothes on the line to dry...
Yup, we are trawler trash, again.

On the trip over from Fort Myers the engine room exhaust blower crapped out, so that became a project.  The bearings were seized up and one of the vanes in the squirrel cage fan broke (well that actually happened when the project manager was assessing the problem with the bearings).  The PM got the bearing problem fixed with a little bit of 3-in-one oil, then tracked down a local welder, Scott at Custom Welding in Port St. Lucie to fix the squirrel cage - can't believe it, but he only charged 8 dollars - unheard of.  
The port side rail is completely stripped and sanded.  Now it makes the starboard side look bad, so that has been added to the list.  In between rain bursts, Rick is trying to get caulking and varnish done.

Never get tired of rainbows.  We also get to watch everyone having fun at Club Med.  

We stopped and visited with Bob, Melanie, Radar and new puppy Muddy - Radar was impressing us with his begging skills.  
Muddy being the puppy that he is - was a blur, trust me - he's a cutie pie even though Radar might not think so.
Hang in there Radar.

Back on our boat - this guy torments Izzy - along with this guy...

She just doesn't know what to think about these strange creatures practically in our cockpit.

Izzy has her own private beach here - the down side is WET DOG ON BOAT, up side is TIRED DOG ON BOAT.
video


So that's it for now - Rick, Deb & Izzy
Picture courtesy of Carol on Take Time

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

REFLECTIONS/RELAVATIONS -NO PICTURES

Ok, I asked Rick to write this, because he is a better writer, but - he probably won't.  Alot has been going on in the blog world about cruisers (dirt owners versus live-a-boards, we are the former?).  What exactly is the definition of a live-a-board? Are all your worldly possessions gone?  Are they in storage somewhere? Are they at your Kids/Parents? Did you move them onto the boat? We are in a marina, not our normal, modus operandi, however, this is a maintenance year.  We love traveling.  I have had a passport with me since I was 18, my husband  has had one since he was 12 - I say that because everything happened when he was 12, every story he tells was when he was 12 - he did alot when he was 12.

Ok, back to we love to travel.  That perhaps drew us together - maybe it was sex, but my mother reads this so, lets just say travel (by the way I get my wanderlust from my Mother and we have other similarities).

Interesting - the last three months at marinas we have been charged a live-a-board fee - I guess we are live-a-boards.  Or - are we?  That definition still eludes me.  

What-ever we are, it has been a great ride.  Some of my favorite memories have been the people.  Can't forget the Erie Canal trip where people, so called strangers would walk up where we were tied up on the wall  and offer us rides to wherever we needed to go.  Or our Mississippi River trip, where we would pull into a marina whether it be Homeport, Fairport, or Keokuk (that's just Iowa), belly up to the bar and never need to pay for a drink - these are people that live vicariously thru the cruisers.

Then you step outside the box - hmmm might we venture beyond the Exumas - scary.  What lies beyond - pirates?  We did make it to Trinadad - my dreamer of a husband would of probably preferred to continue to points unkown, I don't call it squashing the dream - I call it compromise.  At least what we are doing, we are doing together - somedays it is his dream some days it is mine.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

IT IS SO HARD TO LEAVE - UNTIL YOU LEAVE - AND THEN IT'S THE EASIEST GODDAMNED THING IN THE WORLD, "John Green"

I knew the end was coming, but you just never know.  The first indication was the "departure list" and then an estimated departure date (weather permitting, of course)of March 9th.  
The weather plays a huge factor in the "estimated departure date", but things are looking pretty good for our Friday/Saturday two day run via the Okeechobee Waterway to the East Coast of Florida.

If we wake up in the morning and the flags are blowing like this - this would be a no go day.

The second hoist arrived on schedule and was installed that same day.  Guess that will not delay our departure (damn).
Arrival and installation of the second hoist put pressure on Deb to get the covers made - well actually the Captain put pressure on Deb to get the covers done, but let us not go there.

However, a team effort was needed to modify the dinghy cover - so now back on speaking terms we decided on a a couple of nips and tucks, a support pole to keep the rain off, a couple of more tie downs - looks a little better, eh? 

So it looks like we are ready to shove off, the weather looks favorable and we have no more excuses for delaying.  You need to understand what a great place this is - there is a reason we come back season after season, sometimes only for a day to get a quick fix or one year we came for three days and stayed 3 months.  The marina is top notch, the staff is incredible and the boaters are; well just let me introduce you to a few permanent fixtures.  
This is Rick of the M/V Tourist  - he put us all to shame - winning the cleanest boat in the marina award.  And when he's not busy swabbing the deck on Tourist -
he's busy keeping Pamsters little red TT spotless.  Oh, Oh - looks like some morning dew - we won't let Pam know your slacking while she's home in Illinois waiting on grandbaby #2.  Hope to see you guys on the east coast this year.
And this would be Donnie, the Mayor of Who-ville (aka Legacy Harbour Marina).  Donnie and his wife Marilyn on M/V Kasey's Choice have been here since the beginning of - well let's keep it nice and say we first met them here in 2001. If you need anything or need to know where to get something or need to know anything about anybody - this guy is your man!  (Love yah Donnie). 
Well looks like we are preparing to get out - the weather has cooperated, it's a beautiful blue sky, light wind kind of day - should be perfect. Hopefully the tentacles that seem to keep us here are not too secure.  

The town council arrived to assist in pulling our plug - you know the joke "how many boaters does it take to unplug the plug?"  The answer is 4. First to share similar experiences of unplugging the plug, and then discussions on how the plug could have been unplugged differently. Thanks, Donnie, Rick & Marty for helping the Captain on this one.
And we are underway - "Things go away to return brightened for the passage".  Hope to see you next year!

Izzy in position at her place on the watch berth.  She seems happy - I think we are going to be OK.  It did take her until around 2:30 in the afternoon to figure out she needs to use that darn potty tray in the cockpit to do her business.  We all got excited and did the Izzy pottied in her tray dance and then celebrated with Izzy's favorite treat - doughnut holes!  

The day was pretty uneventful.  Both the Franklin and Ortona Locks were ready and waiting for us so we were tied up at the Moorehaven town wall by 5:30.  

Sneaking out early in the morning - just coming out of the Moorehaven lock - again no wait at this lock.

Sunrise as we are approaching Lake Okeechobee.


So as you can see, it's a pretty good day on the lake - and this is our welcoming committee as we head out onto the lake.

Deb's favorite kind of lock - lucky day it's wide open to motor right thru it - Port Mayaca Lock on the other side of the lake.

Welcoming committee at Port Mayaca Lock.  

We are now at Sandpiper Marina - it's not
Who-ville, but it has it's own charm.  Our friends Wayne & Carol are here aboard M/V Take Time and we are looking forward to spending time with them and several other boat friends on this coast.    

The lovely thing about cruising is that planning usually turns out to be of little use.  If nothing else has been learned in the last 11 years of doing this - it is to be flexible - nothing is written in stone.  Our plans are again changing.  It looks like we are scraping the Abaco trip for a later time and concentrate our time, money and energy on  our trip to Maine this summer.  We will hang here until Big Run arrives, re provision and then start heading north up the east coast for our next big adventure.

More when we have more.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Spending time in doors - it's blowing like snot today - Gusts to 42mph

Can't believe it is March already!  We will be departing Legacy Harbour Marina this Thursday to head to the east coast via the Okeechobee Waterway (weather permitting).  Our jello plans are to spend some time in the St. Lucie/Stuart area then head down to Ft. Lauderdale for Deb's departure to Arizona for her Mom's birthday.  After that we plan to meet up with Big Run in the Abaco's for some R & R during the month of April.  Our projects continue, mixed in with some fun, but buying a bigger dinghy has lead to a plethora of projects that were not on the list.  We originally thought one hoist would be sufficient to lift the 450 pound beast up to the flybridge. But, after deciding to try lifting it with the old system (a manual block and tackle with non-self-tailing winches) to see if it would fit in the dinghy cradle, we both looked at each other and said "we need two hoists - no further discussions!  First off, thank goodness our friend Marty showed up while we were attempting this feat - his optimism, encouragement and extra muscles were much needed and appreciated. Secondly it was a good thing the people in the slip next to us were not on board to watch the dinghy hanging precariously; inches away from their pretty blue hull.  Anyway we managed to get it up and she fits in the existing cradle - and again, that gym membership this past summer is still paying off.    
Now the fun begins.  Hoists are ordered. We need a cover, a lifting bridle and also wiring from the DC distribution/breaker panel and the battery bank up to the flybridge for power to the hoists. A footnote here, we opted for a Warn DC 800 hoist which is engineered to lift 800 pounds. Many boats use winches for this purpose, but,  in the words of the manufacturers' "winches are for pulling, hoists are for lifting".  We were not comfortable having our dinghy hanging over our body parts with a winch system which uses a clutch assembly, versus a hoist that has no clutch but a constant brake should there be any motor failure.  In other words we opted to spend a little more money and stay with the manufacturers' recommendations.
The captain has taken up crocheting (because he has nothing else to do) -  who would of  thought making all those macrame projects in the 70's would come in handy someday.
Making the bridle for lifting the dinghy.  Hmmm - might this be a money maker?  After 11 years of this cruising thing and realizing how much it takes to float this boat - we may need to become greeters at Walmart or figure out what that money maker thing might be.

 Battery cable being pulled from breaker panel to flybridge.  Always fun putting another hole in the boat.  

Installing new circuit breaker for hoist motor.

Project complete on this end.  Now up to the flybridge to wire the hoist.


A Boaters best friend our P-Touch labeler -we have learned YOU MUST LABEL EVERY THING!  (We know what it is today, but next year, month, week "what was that wire for?")
While waiting for hoist #1 to arrive - back to the list - stripping the varnish.  So now we are now multi-tasking and as a result....
the pilot house, once again, has become command central.  I call it out of control, Rick calls it organized chaos.
Mounting the solenoid and control switch for the hoists.  The panel will be placed in the port flybridge locker - tucked neatly out of sight and nice and dry.   

Ok so the hoist parts started arriving (bear with me this is lenghty, but there is a point to this story), however the first hoist ordered thru a company called warnfactoryoutlet.com aka truckaddons.com fumbled the ball royally.  The second hoist was ordered thru a company called gowarn.com (because the first company had only one hoist in stock). The second hoist ordered thru gowarn.com arrived in two days as promised.  The first hoist ordered thru warnfactoryoutlet.com  has still not arrived (21 days after order was placed).  Rick sent a somewhat angry (well angry in Rick's standards) email to Warn Industries (the manufacturer),  only to find out that warnfactoryoutlet.com has no relationship with Warn Industries and that gowarn.com would be their recommended distributor in our area.  Needless to say the 1st hoist order has been cancelled, although we have yet to receive a confirmation on the cancellation which we are now certain will show up on their new eta of March 12th (30 days after placing a supposedly in stock order). An expedited shipment is now en route to us thanks to the customer service department at Warn Industries and their distributor gowarn.com  -  both have bent over backwards to get us another hoist asap. I guess the point of the story is DO NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES USE WARNFACTORYOUTLET.COM .
One hoist and remote control installed.  If all goes well, the second hoist should be here on the 7th of this month. 
Our new dinghy cover arrived, but it will need some modifications - time to get out ye olde sewing machine.  Also Sunbrella covers need to be made for the hoist motors - my 8th grade Home Ec skills are soon to be tested.

We listed our Apex on Craig's List (minus the 15hp Yamaha - we are taking it back to Minnesota to use at our cabin). Within about a week after it was listed, it sold.  Kind of sad to see it go - 11 years of trusty service, but time to move on.  
I could barely stand to watch as the new buyer quickly pulled the plug, deflated Apex and shoved it into the back of his pickup. That dinghy was our lifeline to land for the past 11 years - I was hoping for a little more respect from the kid. Oh, well, move on Deb, move on.
We heard a noise the other morning, stepped out onto the cockpit to check it out. Appears some Jacks found the mother lode of small fish to feast on -  it lasted for several minutes, kind of exciting, and nauseating at the same time.  

We enjoyed a day with Robbie, a friend from Minnesota.  She was in Naples visiting her parents so we drove down and had lunch at a cute dockside restaurant. Good conversation and food - thanks, Robbie for taking time out of your busy schedule to join us.  Doug - we were really counting on you to come this year, also!     

Some friends told us about a dog park near Ft. Myers Beach.  We didn't know exactly what to expect, but loaded Izzy into the car and away we went.  Wow, can't say that we have ever been to a dog park that had it's own beach - cool.  Any of you that know Izzy can picture her excitement (we call it the wild eye) she came thru the path and spotted the dogs out playing loose in the water,  she couldn't believe it - which caused her to totally lose it and start chasing after any small dog she could find - pretty comical in hindsight, but scary in the moment - hey she just wants to play.  We suggested to her that she should play with dogs more her size, besides by now most of the small dogs were in protective custody of their owners, so it was pretty easy to redirect her. She romped, she swam, she found a ball she found a stick, we rocked her world - she thinks she'll keep us. 


A Lab, water and a stick - what can I say - priceless.

Ruh, Roh -  he's got the car keys and my lead in his hand - not looking good.

More fun in the sun to follow.