Underway at last!

We did it!  After 8 months at the dock, we finally left.  We were dockside waaaay longer than we planned due to my illness last summer, beloved elderly parent’s health issues and finally solving some diesel engine health issues.  I swear there was a sucking sound as we pulled away…  like we were so attached to the dock we couldn’t get free… then pop!  Free!

leaving telemar 2

leaving Telemar

 

We had a uneventful ~6hr motor down the ICW.  We did a lot of upgrades and maintenance while we were dockside, so we are watchful on all the systems to see if everything is working.  The bilge pump was the last thing worked on, it cycled > 30 times on our way down, so it will need to be fixed.  Also our head is not pumping water back into the bowl, so George will need to look at that.  And we need to re-activate our weather radar.

We passed s/v Freedom as they were headed north.  I met Chris while doing laundry last year on Green Turtle in the Abacos.  We had a good laugh when I realized I had washed a handful of Bounce sheets.  What a mess!

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When we pick up a mooring I drive the boat and George picks up the mooring ball and secures it.  First try no problem picking it up, but I didn’t stop the boat fast enough so George had to drop it.  We got it on the next try.  Note to self:  use more reverse before my husband breaks his arm.

Once settled in we started the process of remembering how to be un-tethered to electricity and water.  First all 110 volt cords get stowed and the 12 volt cords come out.  We turned on our long range Wi-Fi and voilà! we can see Wi-Fi… but we need the password.  We hoped into the dinghy and went into the marina office to get the passwords.  We were headed back to the boat when George decided he wanted a hamburger, so we diverted to the Riverside Café.  What is it about being on the water all day that makes you so hungry?  I don’t know, but I am totally down with it.

Back at the boat we figured we would need to use the companionway screens (it can get very buggy here) so I went in search of them.  During our dockside time I had rearranged a few things and forgot to update our spreadsheet of where things are.  It took awhile to find the screens.  2nd note to self:  if you move something, note it in the spreadsheet, duh!

Time for a shower.  For the entire life of this boat, we have never been able to generate hot water off the engine.  That was fixed while we were dockside when we found an amazing engine mechanic that was very familiar with our engine type.  As soon as he looked at it he said “I see the problem!  You have the wrong water pump!”.  Huh?  We ordered the “right” water pump from Europe and we now have hot water of the engine!  Yay, a hot shower!  We might not ever need to use the sun shower bags again?!

Time for a sip of champagne while we watch the sunset.  We made it… adventures begin with the first step.

Grateful for it all

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New Orleans

George is turning 60!  Let’s go to New Orleans and celebrate!  We only had 2 goals, enjoy delicious food and listen to music.

We checked in to the Country Inn & Suites on the West side of Canal St., within walking distance of the French Quarter.

Places we visited:

Hop on Hop off bus – the tour around town takes ~1.5 hours.

French Quarter – never get tired of the Quarter!

  • Bourbon St. for the drinks & music & people watching.
  • Royal St. for the antique shops and art galleries.
  • Frenchmen St. for the music scene.
  • French Market to stroll the 6 blocks of vendor’s stalls.

City Park

  • Art Museum
  • Sculpture Garden
  • Botanical Gardens

Garden District – we strolled the neighborhoods and admired the 19th century architecture of the homes and visited the Lafayette Cemetery.

Street Cars – we used the street cars for our transportation thru the Garden District and to the City Park.

 

Places we ate:

Royal House Oyster Bar – we went here twice to eat the Crab Claw appetizer served in a lemon, garlic butter sauce.  It was so good we wanted to lick the plate.  We also had their Taste of New Orleans dish which is a sampling Chicken & Andouille Jambalaya, Crawfish Etouffée and Seafood Gumbo.  They had a large infuser for their vodka filled with onions, olives, sun-dried tomatoes, green beans, etc., it made for a very tasty Bloody Mary!  George found a new favorite dark beer TurboDog brewed by Abita, a local LA brewery.  On our second visit we enjoyed Red Fish Beignets (fish fried in beignet batter and sprinkled with powdered sugar with an aioli sauce.)  It all went nicely with a Sea Glass Pinot Grigio.

Chop House – we enjoyed a Bacon appetizer with a French dressing which included molasses and horseradish, and Baked Shrimp (garlic butter, parmesan and bread crumbs).

Commanders Palace – we went to this high end restaurant to celebrate George’s birthday lunch.  We enjoyed a Shrimp and Tasso ham appetizer, Chicken Creole gumbo, Rabbit and Pork Cassolette and a Bread Pudding (with a candle!) Excellent; and amazing service!  Our lunch was paired nicely with a Dry French Rose.

Kingfish – The Chef at this restaurant makes his own sausage and dresses his own rabbit.  We enjoyed Smoked Rabbit Gumbo, Bacon Wrapped Stuffed Jalapenos (stuffed with homemade chorizo) and a Sweet Potato Waffle Pierogi filled with barbecue shrimp.  Yum!

Claire’s Pour House – we enjoyed Boiled Peanuts with our drinks.

Emeril’s NOLA – We had been to this restaurant on our last visit to New Orleans in 2009 and wanted to return because we thought the food was so wonderful.  On this visit we enjoyed Pork Cheek Boudin Balls, Turkey and Sausage Gumbo, Grilled Pork Chops with Sweet Potatoes with Emeril’s own Syrah wine and another Turbodog beer for George.

Olivier’s Creole Restaurant – we enjoyed Cornbread with Honey, Sausage Shrimp Crab Gumbo, Red Beans and Rice with Andouille sausage with a nice dry rose wine.

New Orleans, we will be back!  After we lose a few pounds 🙂

 

Grateful for it all

“Road Bumps” aka “I have what?!” aka “How I spent my summer”

“Road Bumps” happen in the course of life.  You will be screaming along, enjoying life and SCREECH!  You have to slow down or stop to maneuver the “road bump.”

Our “road bump” started in the Bahamas in June, 2013.  I started to have chest pain (like someone was squeezing my heart) and feeling woozy.  It was pretty hot out, so we thought I might just be reacting to the heat and humidity.  We went into the Marsh Harbour Marina for a few days of R&R and AC.  I felt better, not 100% and the pain wasn’t gone, but better.  Good enough to get through the regatta and sail home.

I underwent tests on our return to Florida; they included a stress test, echocardiogram, and heart catheterization procedure.  My arteries were fine (good news!) but I had a “weak heart.”  I remember laying on the table after the procedure and my local cardiologist (let’s call him Dr. CardioLocal) telling me “you have a weak heart… if you drink alcohol, you will need to stop.”  Huh!?  Yep, alcohol will weaken an already weak heart.  I told him “If you want to see a grown man start laughing out loud, go tell my husband.  George will be so happy to have extra storage room on the boat since I won’t need to store wine anymore.”  George’s reaction?  Exactly what I predicated!   He laughed and made a comment about having more storage on the boat.

In our follow up visit with Dr. CardioLocal, he said my diagnosis was Idiopathic (meaning they don’t know what caused it) Dilated Cardiomyopathy.  Dr. CardioLocal gave me medication (Beta-Blocker and Ace Inhibitor) and said come back in six months.  He said statistically 25% get better, 50% stay the same and 25% get worse; go live your life as best you can.

Of course I got on the internet as soon as I got home to research the diagnosis.  We were very surprised to learn that at 53 years old, I had a progressive heart disease that is the leading cause of the need for a heart transplant and that some people die of sudden death because of the disease!   They don’t investigate to determine the cause because apparently the cause doesn’t change the treatment. The causes can include hereditary (not in my case probably), alcoholism or drug abuse (love my wine, but I am not an alcoholic) or a virus.  I did have the virus in December 2012, perhaps that was the culprit?

I was a dutiful patient, taking the meds, and living a pristine lifestyle.  It is easy to lead a pristine lifestyle when you are dizzy, feel like crap, and are tired all the time.  My hair was falling out in clumps, my skin was so dry it hurt and I was so cold I was wearing sweats on the boat in Florida in summer.  All, I believe, to be side effects of medicine which caused my blood pressure to go so low.

It was a difficult time for George and me.  I was mostly in bed, while he hovered over me and took care of me.  If I ever say I am really mad at my husband, just remind me of how he took such good care of me!

We talked about what this meant to our lifestyle… would we be able to continue to live on the boat and cruise?  Did we have to sell the boat and move back to the condo?  Did we really plan our cruising retirement for 12 years, only to have 4 months of cruising in the Bahamas?  Would my disease progressively get worse?

After ~six weeks Dr. CardioLocal finally took me off all meds because I just couldn’t tolerate them.  The medications drove my blood pressure way to low (79/59 low!)  Dr. CardioLocal said come back to see him at my already scheduled follow-up appointment (in 4 ½ months.)  What!?  I took that to mean they didn’t know what to do with me and it was time to find a new Cardiologist.

It took about a week for the medications to work their way out of my system… during that time, the dizziness was worse!  I spent a few more days in bed then started to finally feel better.  After about a week and a half I felt great!  The chest pains had stopped after I had started the medication.   No more symptoms!

At my Father’s prompting (he is a smart man) I went to Mayo Clinic for a second opinion.  George and I were on pins and needles as the Cardiologist (let’s call him Dr. CardioMayo) reviewed the test results from Dr. CardioLocal.  After a few minutes Dr. CardioMayo said “based on the test results that I see here I cannot give you the diagnosis of Cardiomyopathy.”  You could have knocked us over with a feather!  We reviewed the details with him:

  • Echocardiogram stated Ejection Fraction 60% (normal) – no one had told me the results of this test before this visit
  • Stress Test – “negative for ischemia” – what?!  My Primary doctor (let’s call him Dr. Primary) said it was “positive for ischemia”?
  • Hearth Catheritization stated Ejection Fraction 45-50% – Dr. CardioMayo explained that while this is lower than normal, the Echocardiogram is considered to be more accurate because your heart is in a stressful environment during a Heart Cath procedure

Dr. CardioMayo offered to redo the tests and look into it further, but because I was feeling great, George and I decided not to redo the tests.

We headed back to the hotel for breakfast and I celebrated with a glass of champagne!

So what does this really mean?  Am I fine?  What was wrong with me?  Should I go to my follow-up with Dr. CardioLocal in February?  Did Dr. Primary make a mistake when reading the results of the stress test?  If so, should I keep him as my Primary Dr.?

I have been with my Dr. Primary for many years and like and respect him.  I decided to make an appointment with my Dr. Primary and review the events with him and see if he could make any sense out of what happened.

I met with my Dr. Primary and we reviewed the results from the stress test and it was indeed “strongly suggestive of ischemia”… with the caveat that “due to a mitral valve issue I have had for years, false positives could be occurring.”  Apparently Dr. CardioMayo was reading an old stress test report from 2006!

Dr. Primary told me that based on the fact that I was feeling fine, he recommended that I not do anything.  He said it could have been a virus that my body was able to fight off over time.  But that I appeared to be fine at this time.

Ok, so, in a two month period of time I went from chest pain, to dire diagnosis, to fine!  I’ll take it!  I will take it as a blessing and move on with my life.  But I what did I learn from this experience?  I learned a lot!

I learned you must be your own health advocate, and if you are unable to be, ask someone with your best interest in mind to do it for you.

  • Have a good relationship with your Doctor – When Dr. CardioLocal said “take these medications and come back in six months” that should have been a red flag for me.  I was put on serious medications, I should have had a follow-up appointment with Dr. CardioLocal within 3 months or less.  Also when I started asking questions, after a few, he told me “too much information can be a bad thing…” another red flag!
  • See all of your test results for yourself – I should have had Dr. Primary & Dr. CardioLocal review all of my test results by showing me the results.  I would have seen that the Echocardiogram was reporting a normal Ejection Fraction and would have been able to question it.
  • Get a second opinion – If you are diagnosed with a disease that will be life altering, get a second opinion… maybe even a third. And get it from the best medical source you can find.  Going to the Mayo Clinic for a second opinion was a game changer for me, and ultimately led to the realization that I was fine.
  • Monitor your own vitals if it is important to your diagnosis – It was important that I bought a blood pressure monitor and kept track of my symptoms and blood pressure and called Dr. CardioLocal when my blood pressure was too low.
  • Gather Reliable Information about your condition – I am lucky, my sister is a nurse, and she was able to help me maneuver what the doctors were telling me.  But I also found several very reliable resources for information:
    • Healthtap.com – Once you sign up and have entered as much information as you care to share regarding your diagnosis, medical test results and medications; you can ask questions.  In a few hours you will get at least one answer, and maybe more, from REAL doctors!  You can also search previously answered questions regarding your area of interest.  And you can start a dialog with a Dr. via email for a relatively small fee.
    • Mayo Clinic.org – Mayo Clinic is not one of those sites where “anyone” can edit the information provided (like Wikipedia).  MayoClinic.org provides reliable information by medical professionals.
  • Consider alternative treatments – I have been seeing an herbalist for years for issues ranging from pain management to sinus infections.  I am one of those people that these alternative treatments seem to work well for.  My herbalist formulated a tea for me, along with a few other items that would support heart health, and my immune system.  Be sure to find someone that is qualified and well educated in their discipline.
  • Allow yourself to cry, being brave can be on the other side – I read somewhere that each tear we shed contains no less than thirty-eight toxic chemicals. So cry away your fear.  Allow the emotions, but try not to focus on the negative for too long.  When I find myself focusing on the negatives I repeat “Blessings, Blessing, Blessings” which makes me focus on the blessings in my life.

Well, that really wasn’t the way I wanted to spend my summer, but George and I have regrouped and are planning to take off on Stormy Monday again in January for the Exumas, Bahamas.  We are sincerely grateful that it all turned out to be just another “road bump” and are ready to resume our cruising lifestyle.

Grateful for it all

Back in the Marina in Indian Harbour Beach

George and I are back on Stormy Monday in the marina in Indian Harbour Beach, FL…  snug in our slip we used last winter.

It is so nice to be back with family and friends…  living in air conditioning and having hot showers.  But we really miss the Bahamas!

Our days here are so different, more “chores”, gratefully broken up by visits with family & friends.

We will be here thru hurricane season.  While we were gone we kept a “list” of boat projects we wanted to work on to make the boat more comfortable and safe.  Now we get to start to start on the list.  Also, it is a good chance to give the boat a thorough cleaning.

Our trip to the Bahamas was a “shakedown” for the boat as well as us.  Would the boat perform as well as we hoped?  Would we be independent in terms of power and “systems” so that we could comfortably live on the boat for months at a time without “plugging in?”  Would George and I like the lifestyle?  Would our marriage survive living in a small space together 24/7?  I think that largely the answer is YES!  We are eager to get back out there… But we will enjoy this time at home.

Come see us!

Grateful for it all…

 

Back to the Bahamas – the Sequel – by Merrilee

By Merrilee

11 July 2013 – Treasure Cay, Abaco, Bahamas

I start this narrative sitting at a “desk” in the bunk next to the galley on Two Step, docked at Treasure Cay Marina. Two Step is familiar to me now, the galley in particular. Up early, coffee for the Captain, tea for me. Switch on the propane, light the stove. Grits, eggs scrambled with onion and tomato, sliced oranges. And now, dishes done, time to check email. “Write more,” Susan says. I take that as an assignment.

A breeze is blowing through the hatch, not yet enough for sailing. No stretch of my most vivid imagination could have conjured this simple moment. So many new people have entered my life in the past ten days (ten? really?) Philosophers all. The sea does that to you, I decide. I listen and learn and I feed them. “Do you wonder if we were meant to meet who we meet, and if so, why?”  Zenmaster Susan asks. It is July 4th and we are aboard Mer Soleil at Green Turtle Cay. We tap our sangria-filled red solo cups (customized by Angel) and ponder Susan’s question. How far back do you go? Where will it lead?

Capt. Bob hugs me hard when I arrive, the third visit in as many months. The timing and purpose of this trip have to do with the Abaco Regatta, an annual race between various islands in the Abacos. I offer to serve as “galley wench” to the guests Bob will have on charter. He refers to them as “the girls.” A few days before my departure, Bob sends a text: “Call Kristen.” I’m not sure why, but I call the number he provided, and tell Kristen he asked me to call. A bit of confusion. She doesn’t know why he asked me to call her. We are about to hang up when she says “are you the one from Seattle?”  “Yes, are you one of ‘the girls?’” Yes! Sudden animated conversation. Her 50th birthday is on July 3rd, to be celebrated on Two Step with two of her best friends since childhood. I sense serious good times ahead.

I have arrived several hours before the girls, so we make our way to Two Step, which is anchored off Treasure Cay Beach alongside Mer Soleil, a 44 foot PDQ catamaran. I am soon swimming circles around Two Step in the Sea of Abaco. (Demonstrating an impeccable sense of timing, Capt. Bob arrives as I write that last sentence to coerce me back to the sea. Time for a swim.) After our swim (the first one, not the one that at the moment still has me dripping and salty), we hook up with Jeff, the captain of Mer Soleil. We pass the time sitting poolside at the Bahama Beach Club, I with my laptop to test the local wifi connection. We move next to the Coco Bar, where it is bonfire night. There is music and dancing. Bob has arranged a ride for the girls from the airport, and is concerned that they have not arrived. He wanders off to track them down, while Jeff and I head to the beach to wait in lounge chairs in front of the bonfire, walking barefoot through sand as soft as talcum. Jeff is in his early-50s, and has semi-retired to this life. “I just got rid of everything and simplified my life,” he says. I nod, gears churning. We watch the fire and listen to the lively music coming from the bar. Suddenly I realize the song playing, “happy birthday dear Kristen…” “I think Bob found the girls,” I say. When I meet Kristen, Angel and Pam, we hug like we are old friends. Let the birthday celebration begin.

“It’s my birthday!” Kristen shouts gleefully to the Abacos the morning of July 3rd. We are off to a leisurely start, stopping at Florence’s for a foundational breakfast (corned beef and grits), followed by a grocery and liquor store run. It takes more than one run at the liquor store, each of us finding a need to go back in (“do you think we have enough?” Maybe some more beer. And wine. And ice. And rum…) A second shopping cart is put into service as we roll our bounty across the street to load Jeff’s dinghy with the provisions.  Susan has secured a mooring for Two Step and Mer Soleil at Black Sound, Green Turtle Cay, so we set sail and head her direction. The Captain makes assignments: Angel in charge of the foredeck, Pam on starboard watch, Kristen, well, she’s the birthday girl. On the agenda is the Stranded Naked party on Fiddle Cay, an annual kick-off event for the regatta. Jeff and Susan join us on Two Step, and we sail to Fiddle Cay, anchoring offshore. The Captain elects to stay with Two Step; George is already at Fiddle Cay, flipping thousands of burgers for the crowd. Jeff graciously agrees to escort “the girls” (now five of us) to the party in his dinghy.  We carefully weave our way around and under anchor lines, watching for obstacles, human and otherwise.  Hundreds of boats and dinghies are already here, but we manage to find a parking space. We set anchor and join the party. “It’s my birthday!” Kristen announces to everyone we meet with infectious joy. Hours later she is surprised when she encounters people who beat her to it, “it’s your birthday!” they cheer. “How did they know that?” she wonders. There is a long line for the free cheeseburgers, and a surprisingly short line for the free margaritas. Sustenance for standing in the burger line. We take turns standing in line. We get matching tattoos. Kristen wins the limbo contest, 45 and older category (okay, it was a three-way tie, but she got a trophy).

 

“It’s my birthday!” Kristen shouts gleefully to the Abacos

“It’s my birthday!” Kristen shouts gleefully to the Abacos

 

We return to Two Step, and while sailing back to Black Sound, make plans for a birthday party.  Bob prepares mahi mahi he caught earlier, served along with dirty rice, salad and corn on the cob. There is no birthday cake, but we have a birthday candle. Bob finds yogurt in the fridge, the candle is poked through the foil lid, and voilà, birthday yogurt.

July 4th is day one of the regatta, a triangle course off of Green Turtle. Monitoring the radio, Bob hears that Ladybug has broken down, so he invites them to join us as we unofficially run the course. To the five on Two Step are added four more from Ladybug (Rachael, Roddy, Kathy, Iain), Susan and George from Stormy Monday, Jeff from Mer Soleil, and Kat and Jörn from Ritmo di Vita. Pam is officially crowned senior assistant galley wench as we keep the crowd happy with snacks and cold beverages. She also is on duty on the starboard winch, keeping the sail trim. Winch, wench, winch, wench. She is a busy girl. Rachael sings the Star-Spangled Banner. We are mesmerized.  Kat watches and listens and comes in with sublime harmony at the end. Turns out Rachael is opera-trained, and Kat is theater-trained. Wow. A spontaneous glee club is formed, perhaps diminishing the quality of song (Rachael and Kat are a hard act to follow), but not the sincerity. Live versions of America the Beautiful and other holiday-themed songs replace Bob’s island playlist. Meanwhile, the wind is strong, and we slice through the water, tacking, jibbing. The Captain is happy. We finish first, unofficially. A mere spectator boat. But we know we are awesome.

Race over, we return to our respective boats in Black Sound with plans to reconvene in a few hours for a potluck aboard Mer Soleil. Turns out we need to reprovision (seriously? We’re out of alcohol?), so Rachael and Roddy loan us 9-year-old Iain to show us how to get to the Plymouth Rock liquor store. Jeff lets Iain drive. “I’m not having any fun!” Kristen laughs. “Show me how to have fun.” Iain picks up speed and jumps a wake. Yee haw! “That’s how to have fun,” Iain smirks. At the liquor store, Iain bellies up to the bar and orders a soda, like a pint-sized “stranger” that rolls into town in a western movie. We (uh, me and the girls, not Iain) buy up all the pinot grigio and Kalik light left in the place. At the grocery store, all that’s left is block ice. We weigh Jeff’s dinghy down again, and return to Mer Soleil to unload. Back on Two Step, the girls and I prepare for a night out by bathing in the sea, rinsing using (sparingly) the fresh water supply on the boat. We have come to adopt a relaxed definition of “clean.” “Tattoos last longer when you don’t shower,” I observe, and indeed, our Stranded Naked tats remain intact.

The stores of each boat are raided, and a feast results. Spicy chicken, burgers and hot dogs on the grill. Dirty rice and black beans, mac ‘n’ cheese, potato salad, green salad. Sangria is added to the usual beer, wine, rum options. There is the occasional waft of sweet-smelling smoke. After dinner, as energy levels recede, a group gathers on the bow for an encore vocal performance. The evening comes to a gradual, graceful end to the sound of their soft serenade.

On Friday, we “lay in” for the day, licking our wounds with coffee (for some) or hair of the dog (for others). Susan and I spend the day doing laundry at the Leeward Yacht Club on Green Turtle, where I also manage a warm sponge bath and semi-successful attempt to wash my hair in the rest room basin. Later, we rally the troops and manage to pull together another mini-feast, deciding it is comedy night. We crack each other up with bad jokes, and when we have run out, the girls gather ‘round my laptop where we run a slide show of Angel’s and my photos of the trip, huddled close, laughing with delight like schoolgirls at the memories we have shared thus far. Show over, the girls twist Jeff’s arm into an evening of singing and dancing at Pineapples, where, I later learn, they snack on conch penis.  I am skeptical, but Capt. Bob authoritatively  corroborates the existence of this phallic delicacy. Tom Sawyer (aboard Becky Thatcher) joins Bob and I for a quiet night of conversation on Two Step. I am asleep before the Pineapple gang returns, but when they do return, it is not on tiptoe. The sweet song of the night before is replaced with the raucous songs of the happy inebriated. “Red Solo cup, let’s fill her up, let’s have a party!” I am so tired, but is it possible to laugh oneself to sleep?

We are gifted another fantastic sailing day on Saturday, the last day before Angel, Kristen and Pam leave. Captain Bob and Two Step take us expertly through the fabled “Whale,” crashing through swells on our way to Great Guana for lunch and drinks at Nipper’s, followed by more drinks at Grabber’s. “The Grabber is the most efficient drink in the Abacos,” Susan advised before we left Green Turtle. I stick to the relative safety of my iced pinot grigio. From there we sail to Marsh Harbour, where dinner at Snappa’s is a subdued affair. It will soon be time to say good bye. A cab is arranged to pick up the girls at 6:30 the next morning. I watch my three new friends pack. We promise to keep in touch and talk of future rendezvous.

I finish this narrative sitting at a desk at home, surrounded by a different reality. It is like a pleasant dream that starts to slip away as you wake up. I write to try to hold on to details. A close long-term friend holding a turquoise umbrella. Celebrating a birthday with new friends. Hundreds of strangers standing waist deep in the water at Fiddler Cay. We cross anchor lines. We cross paths. We get tangled, we get set free. We all have something in common. We are here, at this place, at this time, sweating, laughing, and digging our toes into the wet sand.

 

Susan &  Kat at the Cheeseburger Party

Susan & Kat at the Cheeseburger Party

 The cure for anything is salt water — sweat, tears, or the sea. -Isak Dinesen

© 2013 Merrilee Harrell

Back in Florida!

We finally got some decent weather (not blowing 20-25kts) and left Green Turtle on Monday (July 8) early on a high tide.  As we were headed up the Sea of Abaco, we were in radio contact with Connie & Richard (S/V Sea Salt) and found out they were headed back to Ft. Pierce also… great, a buddy boat!

We were escorted out of the Sea of Abaco by 4 dolphins riding our bow wake and swishing under the boat side to side.  It felt like they were giving us a blessed send off from the Bahamas, very cool.

We had initially planned to go as far as Fox Town (~30 miles), but ended up going all the way to Great Sale (~60 miles).  After a long 10 hour day we anchored, having to move around in the anchorage to find a place to get the anchor to set.

In the morning we put the dinghy up on the front of the boat, in between squall lines going thru.  Hmm… we might not have very settled weather for the crossing…

After the dinghy was set on deck, we headed to Mangrove Cay (~20 miles.)  Mangrove is a very small Cay, but large enough to offer some protection from easterly winds and waves.

While were in the anchorage, another boat got on the radio and asked for crew to help him cross to Ft. Pierce, apparently he was single handing a 48 ft. Ketch and had no auto pilot.  No one took him up on the offer.  About an hour later he was back on the radio and said he was taking on water, apparently a hose near the stuffing box has disintegrated.  Another boat offered to help with repairs and several boats (including us) offered up a rolls of rescue tape.  Last we heard he was going to try to get a tow to West End so he didn’t have to run the engine which might cause the repair to leak.

We weighed anchor at 3:00am on Wednesday (July 10) and headed North West.  It was dark and rainy and lightning, not my favorite conditions, but the seas were only 3-4ft and the wind was 10-15kts which wasn’t too bad.  After 4 months on the boat we were much more confident in taking on the weather.  The first waypoint was “Little Bahama Bank”, ~30 miles (~5 hours) and once crossed we were off the Bahama Bank and into the Ocean.  Just before we crossed the bank we passed another sailboat that had apparently gotten bad fuel in Spanish Cay and their engine had quit.  We asked if we could help, but he waved us on, and last we heard they were sailing across.  We do not know when they got in.

Once across the bank we had another ~60 miles (~10 hours) to go to Ft. Pierce.  George noticed that our batteries weren’t charging, it appears our regulator decided to quit working.  So off goes ALL electronics except the autopilot, including the chart plotter (we used a hand held GPS as backup for navigation) and the refrigerator.  We hoped the sun would come out so the solar panels would kick in and charge the batteries, but since it was raining that didn’t happen until about 2:00pm.  But we were charged enough when we got to Ft. Pierce to turn on the chart plotter and make our way into the inlet.  The tide was coming in, so it was a fun sleigh ride into the inlet.

At ~6:30pm (16 hour crossing) we pulled into the Harbor Town marina.  All day I had been looking forward to a Cheeseburger and Bloody Mary!  We got the power plugged in, checked in at the marina office and met Connie & Richard and their daughter and 2 grand kids at the restaurant for dinner.  Then it was time to crash!  So tired!  So glad to be back in Florida safe and sound.

The boat is now hauled at Cracker Boys in Ft. Pierce to have the water line raised, add a little bottom paint and a depth transducer and then we will bring it back into Telemar Marina in Indian Harbour Beach.

We reflect on our time in the Abacos, and honestly, it was truly amazing.  We feel truly blessed are very grateful for the experience.  We are more confident and better sailors, we made some amazing new friends and we look forward to more adventures on Stormy Monday.

We will be in the area thru hurricane season and look forward to catching up with friends and family.  What’s next?  We are not entirely sure… but maybe, just maybe we will head out south again and see how far south we can get…

Grateful for it all…

 

Hauled in Ft. Pierce

Hauled in Ft. Pierce

Cheeseburger Party, Regatta & visit with “The Girls”

We have come full circle and are back at Green Turtle.  Green Turtle was the first island we went ashore on and checked into the Bahamas.  It is time to start heading home, but first we had to have some fun!  Merrilee is here again for visit #3 with Captain Bob, and 3 of Bob’s friends, Kristen (celebrating her 50th birthday), Angel & Pam were also visiting.

Every year the owner of the Stranded Naked swim suit line (I didn’t add a link since Google warns you not to go to the website) hosts a “Cheeseburger Party” to kick off the Summer Regatta.  It is held at a small deserted island, Fiddle Cay, just north of Green Turtle.  He provides (for free) 1500 cheeseburgers, 1600 hot dogs, French fries, Rum drinks & Margaritas until they are gone.  He just asks that you buy T-shirts to fund the event, easy peasy, we were happy to buy T-shirts!

I have never seen anything like it!  ~300 boats all anchored in front of the island, big and small.  And a lot of folks got rides to the party.  It was somewhat controlled mahem and fun!  George volunteered to cook along with Roddy (Ladybug) and Jorn (Ritmo Di Vita).  They cooked all day while the line for food winded out into the surf.  Some folks waited in line for 2 hours for  burger!

We just walked around and marveled at the crowd and watched the games (limbo, hulu hoop, etc.)  What an amazing party!  Watching everyone depart was like watching flies swarming!

The next day, Day 1 of Regatta, we all (14 of us) went out on Two Step to sail and watch the race.  What a beautiful day!  To think, I didn’t know any of these people 3 months ago and now I have some amazing new friends, so blessed!

Two Step left this morning with Capt Bob and “The Girls” so they can head back to Marsh Harbour.  We will be leaving Green Turtle ~Monday-ish and hope for a crossing to Ft. Pierce later this week.

What an amazing time we have had here in the Bahamas.  But I look forward to coming home to see family and get a little air conditioning.

Pictures

Cheeseburger Party

Cheeseburger Party

Grateful for it all…

S*&^% Happens

Many things can go wrong on a boat.  But not many deserve their own blog post… but this one does.

My wine opener broke!  No kidding!  When it first broke I wasn’t too upset, George promised to super glue it.  But the first bottle I went to open it broke!  Thankfully after I got the cork out.

I searched the boat and finally found a backup (on the top.)  It isn’t my trusty handy dandy black  one, but it will do until we get home.

Grateful for it all… LOLDSCN1326

Hope Town (again)

We really wanted to get to Hope Town on  Elbow Cay, but it is surrounded by shallow depths.  Now that we are buds with Jeff on Mer Soliel, a Catamaran with a shallow draft, it is a easy issue to solve!

We left Stormy Monday at the Low Place at Man-O-War Cay and sailed to Hope Town on Jeff’s boat.  By the time we got there it was lunchtime and we were hungry!  I met a couple while waiting for the guys to tie up the dinghy, they were waiting for a Club Car (golf cart) to pick them up and take them to Firefly for lunch.  Can we go?!  I had heard the food was good and wanted to go, but again, shallow depths kept us away.  Thankfully he showed up with a Club Car for 5 and off we went.  Firefly is only about 5 minutes from downtown Hope Town and is a very  nice resort with a restaurant overlooking the Sea of Abaco.  We had a nice lunch and hoped on the Club Car back to town.

Next stop, the Wine Down Sip Sip (great name for a wine bar.)  Our waitress knew nothing about wine, but was kind enough to let us taste  a few until we found one we wanted to have a glass of.  Air conditioning and a glass of wine, heavenly.

This time we made it to the top of the lighthouse, nice view!

After a walk around town it was getting late and we were ready to head back… we dinked back to Mer Soliel and she was on the bottom, just barely, but we were not going anywhere until the tide came in.  George and Jeff yacked while I napped until we were back in high enough water.  We had a nice ride back to the Low Place as the sun was setting.

Our time here grows shorter… it is strange to be talking about meeting a schedule to head home.  We haven’t had a schedule for months!  We are in Marsh Harbour today and treated ourselves to a night at the Marsh Harbour Marina with air conditioning, hot showers, pool and laundry facilities.  Tomorrow we will start heading north to Guana Cay… stay tuned!

Added more pictures to the  Hope Town picture gallery

Grateful for it all

Lazy Hot Days

Lazy days at the “Low Place” at Man-O-War.  It is hot here.

Lazy Hot Days

Lazy Hot Days

Worm?

Worm?

The Low Place

The Low Place

Stormy Monday, Mer Soliel and the Dink

Stormy Monday, Mer Soliel and the Dink

End of the Day

End of the Day