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November 2010
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December 2010

Leaving Bimini

We are leaving Bimini to anchor tonight at North Cat Cay and work our way across the Bahama Banks. There's only 9 - 15 feet of water most of the way for 50 plus miles. Should be something one gets used to, right?

We hope. May stay on the banks a couple of nights as folks just anchor there -- out of sight of land -- sounds like fun. I think.

We then may go up to anchor northwest of Devil's Cay in the Berry Islands. It looks like a great place to visit and snorkle.

Then we'll head to Nassau for one night to re-connect and get the propane tanks filled.

Happy New Year!


Going With the Flow – Or Not

How long does it take to do two loads of laundry? It takes however long it needs to.

Our dear friend, Rhoda, heard a bit about the following two tales, laughed, and said that perhaps the Universe believes that I need to learn to go with the flow.

Rhoda is a gentle teacher. Anyone who knows me well, most assuredly including Rhoda, knows that I need to learn to go with the flow. The week before Christmas provided the opportunity for me to practice.

The first lesson involved getting diesel and pumping out in Fort Lauderdale. If you’re eating. save this post for another time. I hate hearing the words “pumping out” when I am eating. EW seems to like to bring up the subject during breakfast when I don’t want to hear the term much less discuss the timing and particulars. You have been warned.

We slept in and got a late start the day we planned to leave Fort Lauderdale for Key Biscayne. The boat was not ready on deck or below and we needed to get diesel and water and pump out the holding tank.  The Bahia Mar hotel and marina were just outside the anchorage at Lake Sylvia so after an hour and half of boat work, we decided to tie on to their dock to accomplish all missions. We like to purchase diesel where we pump out and get water because we think it’s just plain rude to get the free stuff without being patrons of an establishment.

Unfortunately, after we had tied up and started the flow of diesel we found out that, yes we could get fuel and potable water but we could not pump out as that is only available to “guests” (those who keep their boats on the docks). I think that’s wrong but it is their business decision and one which is quite prevalent at the more posh marinas. We should have called area marinas before lifting the anchor to find out their policy.

So EW filled the tanks with appropriate liquid and I called the main office of the Fort Lauderdale municipal marinas. None of them provide fuel at the docks, but all have pump outs. We were put in touch with the Los Olas Marina and the person on duty told me that slip B-T was open and we were welcome to head over to pump out.

B-T is a fixed (not floating with the tide) concrete dock for yachts. Big ones. The tide (only 2 feet or so) was on it’s way out so as the afternoon progressed we had to step (climb) up 3-4 feet to get onto the dock. We tied on and called the office. No one was in. Evidently only one person was on duty and he was frequently on the other docks helping folks (paying customers) land and sign in. Pump out is a do it yourself kind of process in most marinas. In the south they offer it at the slips by having stations along the dock where you attach the marina’s pump out hose.

First item: Where was the hose? It took us about fifteen minutes to find it in a dock box near shore.

At this point I did talk very briefly with the staff person and he mentioned that some of the on/off switches weren’t working and we would have to “try a few to get it to go”. Not being familiar with their set-up I didn’t quite get what few we’d have to try but I gamely expressed a cheery thanks and went back to the boat.

Second item: There was no nozzle on the hose. You want the appropriate nozzle for pumping out. Trust me. When extracting s… – stuff from your boat you want a very tight nozzle. There was no nozzle in the dock box and the staff person had disappeared again.

We paused and ate lunch. I know – that is totally against my pump out protocol regarding food. Lunch and pump out should not occur that close together in time. As Rhoda and the Universe have decreed I need to learn to go with the flow. So we washed up, I put our goal out of my mind and enjoyed lunch.

Refueled, we again went in search of the staff person and/or nozzles. EW found a bucket of nozzles of various sizes, then he found the staff person and told him we had the bucket. No problem. So we were off and running. Well .. we were off. EW found the correct nozzle and attached it securely to our deck fitting. I attached the other end of the hose to the fitting on the dock, and EW told me to start her up.

Third item: Where was the start button? It wasn’t anywhere near the fitting. After about 10 minutes I finally found a post with two holes where buttons used to be and a red and green button next to them. Well, I though they were buttons, until I pushed the green “button” repeatedly with force and broke the green cover to the “on” indicator light. So I checked for witnesses and seeing none I moseyed to the next post. And to the next, and so on up the dock until I found a post with a working “on” button. We were truly in business getting rid of business.

We completed our tasks, cleaned the hose and nozzle and returned all gear to its appropriate location. We did not mention the broken light. This half hour process had taken about two and a half hours. We had known even before reaching the marina that we were going to be too late to leave Fort Lauderdale, so we had relaxed on that account as we knew we were simply going back to Lake Sylvia for the night. On the way to the anchorage we ran aground. No big deal. We got to look at some nice homes up close and personal for about 45 minutes.

I hope the Universe is happy.

Oh – and why did  it take six hours to wash and dry two loads of laundry  a few days later at No Name Harbor?

Because I …

1. Had to walk 1.5 miles to get five dollars worth of quarters.

2. Most of them were the newer state quarters and the machines didn’t like them enough to run but liked them too much to give them back.

3. I walked a mile to get to the ranger’s office for help and was told that the ranger in charge of the laundry had just gone to lunch. The ranger offered to call him, but  “No problem” I said, “it’s Christmas Even let him enjoy his lunch. Please ask him to go the laundry room when he returns.”

4. He must have had a nice lunch. An hour and a half later he showed up, very apologetic on two counts. Seems they don’t even handle the laundry machines. Those are the responsibility of the restaurant. No problem. The restaurant is right next to where La Luna is anchored. I walked over there and got my money back in quarters with eagles on them. I had found that if I unplugged the stuck machine it would eat the eagle-less quarters but let me start over. I washed and dried my clothes.

Two lessons in going with the flow in a week. As I write this, we are on the way to the Bahamas and Caribbean where folks move in “Island Time, Mon”. In a few months I’ll either be a basket case or totally going with the flow. I’m going to work on flowing.

Oooooooohm.   Oooooooooooohm. 


Christmas Day At Sea

Santa left us a nice, gently rolling sea in our stockings for an easy passage across the Gulf Stream. We hauled the anchor before daylight,and carefully plotted our way past the day markers to get outside to deep water. Then, we set a course for Bimini.

Christmas Morning at Sea II

 

We had a lovely sunrise followed by blue skies peeking through big, puffy clouds. It got noticeably warmer as we crossed the gulf stream. We moved along under power at 5 – 5.5 knots and expected to arrive in Bimini well before dark. It was an uneventful crossing (my favorite kind – much like our trip around Hatteras).

 

Here is our boat not quite half way across.

Maxsea showing our progress

We each took a nap, first EW and than I. 

When I woke up, EW said, “Land Ho!” and I saw Bimini on the horizon. Then EW remembered that this was a holiday crossing and said.

Land. Ho! Ho! Ho!

Bimini

Hope you had a Merry Christmas. We sure did.

 

To give you an idea of the narrow weather window, on Sunday we went ashore and talked with folks who had arrived on Christmas Eve. There were 12 foot seas in the Gulf Stream.

PC260015 On Christmas Day the wind picked up over night and has continued. This photo from Sunday shows the waves on the beach in North Bimini. It would not have been a good day to cross the Gulf Stream. We had a 10 hour window and me made good use of it.

The winds were clocked at over 50 knots gusts overnight on the 25th. When we were ashore, EW noticed that Joseph had blown off the stable floor. He put Joseph in is place. PC260011

Later we saw that someone had tucked all three figures down where they would be safe from the high winds.

 

PC260016 That afternoon, we found out that The Big Game Fishing Club Marina and Hotel offers NFL at the pool bar so EW and I watched the Bills get trounced by the Patriots. He did enjoy seeing more of the Bills’ new quarterback and he does have hope for the future. I was just tickled to sit in this bar and watch football in a neighborhood with the blue tropical waters and palm trees. 


Merry Christmas

This post is being written on Thursday, December 23rd. This morning as we discussed leaving on Saturday I thought today was Friday. When I finally got the date right I felt as though I had been given a gift of 24 hours. Keeping up with the days is tough in this lifestyle. Just sayin'.

 

As this is published, we hope to be underway to Bimini in the Bahamas. It appears that Saturday-Sunday is a good weather window and getting better. I'm pleased on a number of fronts not the least of which is that I've been watching this window for a week and am thrilled to see that I am learning this weather thing a bit. We received confirmation from some neighboring sailors who have access to weather on the SSB (still in the box on La Luna) and it looks as though we and a number of others will leave sometime on Saturday, Christmas Day. 

As one of my Twitter friends said, when I mentioned we may leave on Christmas Eve, "How Romantic." It's not how I expected to spend our first Christmas At Sea - but I'm OK with it. We will spend Christmas on a calm sea, crossing the Gulf Stream in perfect conditions. We will think of friends and family and hope that all of you are enjoying this day as much as we are.

Every day I try to remember that we are living our dream. When another Twitter friend asked whether Santa would know where to find us to fill our stockings. I said that we would hang our stockings and expected to fill them with future destinations. Once we are safely anchored in the Bahamas -- and rested -- I will make EW a Texas Bourbon Pecan Pie -- and we will prepare a holiday meal. We have some special treats (dark chocolate M & M's, candy canes, and pistachio nuts) for the holiday. And we have Pepperidge Farm Brussels cookies for the holiday cruise to the Bahamas.

We will miss our holiday traditions -- Christmas Eve and Christmas morning with EW's sister and her guy (gentleman friend, partner, boyfriend -- whatever) and Christmas Day with my sister and her husband, one of my brothers and his wife and other family. I don't think we'll miss the snow. But I do miss the wonderful holiday lights in Portland. There has been nothing that comes close in any of the communities we've visited.

We will miss family and friends. But we are blessed and happy.

We send you hugs and warm wishes and wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. 

With love from La Luna in the Bahamas,

 

Barb and EW

 


Sunrise Before Breakfast

After picking our way through the channels to reach open ocean, we were greeted by the sun. Red in the morning is not the best thing, but we think this portends the storm coming tonight

The trip to the Bahamas should only take 10 hours. One of the tricks is to head south to counteract the gulf stream current.

The seas aren't flat but they aren't ugly, either. If they aren't horrible at the gulf stream, we're pushing on.

Have a piece of pie for us. No pie until Boxing Day on La Luna.

image from http://hartsatsea.typepad.com/.a/6a0120a5e6e973970b0148c70afa73970c-pi

Sent from my iPhone

Christmas at Sea -- and in the Bahamas


Merry Christmas and
Happy New Year!

 

It's Christmas Eve and
we hope that those of you who celebrate this holiday are having a wonderful
time with family and friends. We wish all of you the best New Year ever.

 

We are anchored in Key
Biscayne at Bill Baggs State Park, and plan to leave here early on Christmas
morning for Bimini in the Bahamas. We'll post our safe passage on the blog --
www.HartsAtSea.com as soon as we can -- as we expect to have wifi in the Bahamas.

 

Stew has installed and
repaired and replaced a lot of things since October 18 - but has not had the
time to complete installation of the 

SSB (big deal radio that
allows emails) so until that is in place we'll be out of touch some while in
the Bahamas.We will not use our cell phone there, though we hope to make calls
on Skype or Google. We'll have voice mail forwarded to one of those accounts --
and we'll turn off the iPhone once we are out of range in the morning. Our
primary goal in the Bahamas is to spend time in the Exhumas -- where we'll
often be out of contact. We'll try to let you know through the blog or via
email when to expect us to disappear for a while. I'll definitely post a blog
when we get back into a town. 

 

So -- I haven't
decorated the tree (mast) yet as we will get underway. I'll prepare a feast
with pecan pie for the captain once we are in the Bahamas. The weather window
is tiny so we don't plan to leave Bimini for a number of days, which will give
us lots of time to celebrate Christmas.

 

Hugs and love to all!

 

P.S. I found out today
that ATT is all local U.S. in all of the Caribbean. Sweet! We can all talk
again once La Luna reaches Luperon. 

 

Barb and Stew

Sailing. Find out where by going to:


Making New Friends

As many of you know, and others have surmised, EW and I are social creatures. We both are likely to strike up conversations with strangers. This is a good trait when one is sailing, and it's amazing to meet up with new friends over and over again. 

We met folks on Cumberland Island that we've seen again in St. Augustine and Lake Sylvia in Fort Lauderdale. We met folks in Hampton Virginia who showed up in St. Augustine and came to dinner with us and our friends from Florida. We have met people here at No Name Harbor who are going to the Bahamas and we all may go over together on Saturday. We probably won't "buddy boat" but we will watch for them all as we visit the Exhumas. We all have our own agendas. Some are picking up family in Nassau, others want to spend time in the Abacos. 

Most of these folks will be heading back up to "their" north -- Virginia, Connecticut, Maine, or Ontario -- next spring. We will be heading south. I'm sure we will meet others along the way. One woman said we were "ambitious" to head farther south. I think she and the others are ambitious to keep heading up and down every year. As I've mentioned before, this delivery stuff is work.

I have found that it is easier to meet on shore. Laundry rooms at marinas provide great opportunities to chat and learn. Some ladies' rooms are also useful. If women are drying their hair or waiting for their turn in the shower, we talk. It became a La Luna joke in St. Augustine as I would return to the boat with a useful tidbit and EW would ask where I'd heard that. "In the ladies' room", I'd reply. He'd roll his eyes. Guess men don't communicate so much in the men's room.

At Lake Sylvia, where we anchored for a week, I was feeling a tad isolated, even though while on shore we did run into three sets of boaters we'd met on the way. I needed to just chat with some new people. So I baked two batches of Jake the Sailor Dog's Ginger Cookies for Judges and we distributed cookies in the harbor. That was fun. Got some new boat cards and clarification on getting into No Name Harbor. We'll look for a bunch of those folks in the Exhumas.

This is one of the things I love best about this lifestyle. There are a whole lot of interesting folks out there. 


It's Been Cold in South Florida -- But Not That Cold

As EW and I were walking from No Name Harbor to Key Biscayne this afternoon, he noticed a motorcyclist that passed us, wearing black jeans and a black (though not leather) jacket.  "He must be hot," said EW.

"Not if he's a South Florida Native," I said. 

We've been in South Florida (Fort Lauderdale and now Key Biscayne) since December 3rd. They've had some coolish weather. Now, lets be clear, I'm not talking about the 22 degrees experienced at our friends' home in Jacksonville. The little fountain outside their door froze. That's cold no matter where you are.

But 45 at night and 65 in the day isn't really all that cold, and the past few days have been in the 70's. We went snorkeling yesterday. In the ocean. We didn't die and in fact it was quite comfortable once we got in. (Where have you heard that before?)  I've been told that the longer we stay close to the equator the more thin-skinned we will become, and I'm willing to chance that. But from keen scientific observation I think there's something else going on here -- two things in fact:

1. These folks dress their youngsters in really warm jackets on mildly cool nights. In fact Sears in Fort Lauderdale does not sell swimsuits this time of year. They do offer puffy winter jackets for children. They are creating thin-skinned children. These children will become thin-skinned adults.  How many puffy jackets do you think they sell in that Sears store? It boggles the mind.  When we viewed the Lighted Boat Parade for Winterfest, EW and I wore shorts and long-sleeved tops, no jacket or sweater. We saw many folks dressed in a similar way, but we did see folks in heavy fleece jackets and there were kids wearing puffy winter jackets. Their folks shop at Sears.

2. Adults in Florida, women in particular, seem to want to dress seasonally in layers. In black. with long sleeved sweaters. And scarves. This morning I saw a woman dressed just that way. Again, EW and I were in shorts and T-shirts. Folks back at the harbor were in swim suits. Maybe she just likes changing her wardrobe with the seasons. Maybe she was raised here by a mom who dressed her in warm puffy jackets.

The manager of the marina in Fort Lauderdale was complaining of the cold snap. It was cool and we did turn the furnace on in the morning to warm the boat up. But it was not cold and did warm up later in the day. I mentioned that we weren't finding it all that cold. "I was born here," he said. "When it gets below 70 I whimper. I hadn't yet formulated my Sears jacket theory so didn't ask him how he had been dressed as a child.