Back to Land Life….For Now

Right.   We have been home for 3 weeks.  This should have been an easy transition, right?  Nope.

We were/are so happy to see our family and friends.  We have missed them so much!  We have had lunch dates and play dates.   Mom and Dad came up for a birthday party we held for Megan and Luc (because we missed their birthdays) and we met them for a picnic on Fathers Day. We have seen the “big kids” and our grandson, Lucian almost daily.  All of this does our hearts so good.  Missing them was the hardest parts of being away.

So, what are we doing?  We are settled back into our camper.  Mike, has several wood working projects going and we are continuing our “sell everything so we can keep sailing” project.  Anyone need any horse halters???  How about some automatic horse waterers?  A car?  A truck?  Maybe some home furnishings…..?  There are repairs to be made.  The barn, windows, sucker rod fencing that needs welded, etc.  It’s the basic upkeep of owning a place.  I’ve made some new curtains for our room in the camper and I’m helping Sean around his place and we are re-established at church.  We have VBS coming up, which is always a fun week.  The boys (our former foster kids) will be staying with us for a few days this week, as well.

I’ve been giving a lot of thought to how the Lord has used us this past year.  The conclusion I’ve come to is that where I was the most miserable, He was using us the most.  For example, selling our practice.  I went through a bit of a depression while this process was happening.   But, the new owner is realizing her dream of being her own boss.  Another example, the hardest, was when we let the foster kids go.  We, in all honesty, would have kept them forever.  We asked about getting them passports and taking them (knowing that was very unlikely).  My heart was torn and then Lynn said she had prayed about it and wanted to pursue getting licensed and potentially adopting them.  This, although so hard to deal with at the time, has been ideal.  Lynn has blossomed into genuine mom material.  She and the boys have been blessed beyond measure and to see the positive changes in the boys,  because of what she can offer them has been completely worth it!

When we left, we had been in our camper for 6 months and although tight, was not uncomfortable.   We missed the hardest and longest winter in recent history (not that we are complaining about that) but it would have been terribly uncomfortable if we were continuing to live in the camper.  Then there was the boat yard.  Six weeks that WAS a little uncomfortable.  We ended up with a much more sound boat than we started out with AND more importantly, ended up spending the next 3 months with a family, the Sivori’s, who will be life long friends.  The Lord saw fit to put us within 4 miles of each other when starting out when we were all expecting to be on completely different schedules when we met in Brunswick 2 months before.  Add all this to personalities that compliment each other, boys that are the same age and what I think was especially important, was that we were all taking off into unknown waters (literally) and had each other for support, back up, friendship and companionship.   I’m not sure I would be so “boatsick” of it wasn’t for meeting these wonderful people!

So~ I miss waking up to the bluest and clearest water on earth, wondering what the days adventure will be.  I miss looking out and seeing a random pod of dolphins, or a ray, or sea stars and other fish.  I miss the gentle (and sometimes not so gentle) rolling of the boat when I go to bed.  I miss Matthew having his own room, hopefully this is remedied soon.  But, I’m happy to have my dog, Cookie to wake up to and my big kids and grandson very nearby.  My closest friends that I can call and suggest lunch, or a movie, or a sip and paint class.  I can see my parents within a few hours drive.  I’m happy to sit with my church family on Sundays and being able to participate and teach my crafts class for VBS again this year and celebrate the Fourth this week in the church parking lot.  This is why we came home and why we will be hear for a few more months.

SV Ventolines
Missing this crew like crazy!
Voyager
Voyager and her crew 2019

Well, I’m off to do some yardwork and sort some things for donation.

In the meantime, if you haven’t watched our YouTube videos check them out.  If you would like better video quality and a few glimpses of us, check out Sailing Ventolines YouTube channel.  Links to both:

The Preys Project/ SV Voyager

Sailing Ventolines:

Slainte’

Florida

Right- On May 14th we crossed back to the US of A.  This started out as a somewhat rolly ride, but cleared relatively quickly into a pleasant 8ish hour sail.  We began the crossing at Cat Island, Bimini.

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We entered Miami through Government Cut and anchored off Fisher Island.  This was basically a wide and barely deep enough spot in a bay across from where they load cargo ships.  We checked in to the US on the app in this location and then went around the corner to Virginia Key.  This was a pretty anchorage in front of a long beach, but it was very populated.  The beach was busy and there was a lot of boat traffic.   There was commotion at night as well as traffic from the nearby road.  After setting the anchor, we took Meg and went looking for a place to eat, American Food!  Jennifer found Salt and we headed to the U of Miami nearby.  There was a dock there, but a guard for the school said we couldn’t tie up there.  There was another short boardwalk that they suggested we use, so we did so.  The food there was terrific and we met the head of security.  Evidently he had seen us pull up and had contacted the guard on duty that there were 2 families looking for a place to tie up.  He said they get some people that aren’t there for the restaurant or any good thing and they run them off.  He was afraid we might be run off.  We received great service and had an exceptional time here.  We were feeling pretty good about being on American soil, again.

We were able to take the dogs to shore, although we chose to do so after dark when the beach had cleared out.  We had to row from the swim buoy’s also, so it just was better this way.  There was an ice cream truck and food tent as well, serving Latin food.  The Sivori’s and Matthew and I shared a Lyft to Target the next day.  Matthew was soooo happy to see a “real” store again!  He bought several gifts for family, in anticipation of going home in a few days.

From Miami we went south to Elliot Key.  This was a short trip, about 3 hours.  We spent one night here.  When we anchored and went to bed, there were four boats, including us.  When we awoke, there was approximately 500 boats.  We headed further south the next day towards Key Largo.  We anchored one night at North Key Largo, near Turkey Point.  We took a quick ride on Meg through the mangroves, it was nice to be off the boat for awhile.  Then onto the Anchorage Resort marina the 20th.   We had a bridge to go under that was immediately adjacent to the marina, extremely shallow depths (the only place we touched bottom, the whole trip) and a bit of a current.  It took 2 attempts to get into our slip, but it was reasonable smooth, anyway.   Do you know what the best benefit of a marina is???  AIR CONDITIONING!  Unlimited power means our AC runs nonsop!  We had a full day there before we headed to Tampa and enjoyed the pool and our first meal from McDonalds since December!

We stayed in a motel the night of the 21st after driving our rental car to Tampa (5 hour drive) and Matthew and I were at the airport at 0500.  We shed some tears, but had a good flight.  He slept most of the way.  When we deplaned, dad was sitting at the gate.  I ran Matthew over to the exit doors and tearfully hugged and waved goodbye to him.  Jamie had brought Helena and that was a great diversion for him.

Dad, Mike and I drove back to Key Largo that night.  We stopped first along the way to pick up some folding bikes Mike had found and bought on Facebook.  Then we found a sushi restaurant that was amazing!  I think I ate my weight in sushi!  We got home at 11pm.

Thursday, we ran around Key Largo a bit and went to marine thrift stores and gift shops.  We met Brad and Shelby from SV Falkor, which was in the slip to our port side (left as you look forward).  They are a young couple and she had just turned 28 the day before.  They have 3 rescue dogs on board, so we were all immediate friends!  They live aboard their Spindrift 43 pilot house sailboat in Miami.  She is a beautiful and unique boat.  When we went to town, we gave them a ride as we still had our rental car.  It was fun!  For giving them a ride, they blessed us with a colorful tiki that now sits below our dodger.  Jennifer had given me an ankle bracelet that day and dad had brought me a tshirt from Mom.  I was feeling pretty special.  Jennifer had recently given me a necklace of hers with a Walt Whitman quote:

“Now, Voyager, sail thou forth to seek and find”

We agreed that as she already had this necklace when she began her trip, it was just one more piece of evidence that we were meant to travel together and become life long friends.  I will always cherish this necklace!

That night, Jennifer, Wyatt, Shelby and I stayed up until midnight painting the wood that Jennifer and I had collected in our travels.  The guys talked and we were creative.  I love the pieces we made and the time spent together!

We were off to Elliot Key the next day.  We hoped that because of some weather coming in we would be in a less busy sight.  Not so…. So, the next night we went back south to Card Sound.  We anchored off some mangrove creeks.  We had drinks and played cards on Falkor that night.  Dad was worn out and stayed home.  We had taken a dinghy ride through the mangroves for a few hours and enjoyed the change in scenery.  The temperatures were gradually becoming warmer and we especially appreciate a breeze when at anchor.  That morning we had seen dolphins playing between the 3 boats.  Shelby and Brad had also seen a couple of nurse sharks, but we missed those.  Shelby coined us the Pirate Brigade!  I loved having the 3 boats and new friends nearby.  We all played around one more day, then on Monday headed back to Miami.  Falkor went to their home port and we dropped the hook back at Virginia Key.  After everyone settled we met up for a farewell meal at  Whiskey Joes across the road.  We dinghy’d over then after Brad and Shelby took me to the grocery store for a few last minute provisions.  What a sweet couple they are!  More new life long friends!  What could be better?

The next morning we headed north for West Palm.  As we headed out of Government Cut, the waves were bottlenecking into the channel.  We estimate the waves to have been about 6 foot and very close together.  Voyager plowed through them, burying her bow in the water several times.  It was a relief to turn north once out, and get out of that!  We were able to catch the edge of the Gulf Stream and made decent time.  We were making high 9’s (9+knots) and were happy with that.  We anchored near the Palm Beach Sailing Club where we had been in March, so we could take the dogs to the dog park.  The next morning we were headed north again after fueling up at the Riveria Marina fuel dock.

We weren’t sure if we would pull an overnighter or not when we left, but we did, indeed.  The gulf stream kept us at around 11knots and we were screaming along!  Typically, if only under sail with 12 or more knots we can expect around 7 knots of speed, so this was amazing.  We arrived at the Conch House Marina in St Augustine at about 4 pm on May 30th.  There was a brisk current and the wind, which had been minimal all day picked up as we approached.  The marina was somewhat narrow between docks and I had trouble lining up to the slip we were directed to go into.  As I started in, the wind and current took Voyager back.  I then narrowly missing a few other boats, swung around, doing a 360 and we pulled in to a slip across from where we were supposed to be.  It was embarrassing and humiliating and I was so glad no one got the footage (that I know of).  The dock hands were great and made light of the whole thing.  Mike said he thought the Lord was keeping us humble as we were feeling like we had this whole sailing thing down.  He’s probably right.  I tend to get a little too big for my britches and this brought me down a notch.

We weren’t sure how long we would stay, but planned on leaving Saturday if Rocky was able to haul us out on Sunday.  Well, turns out St Augustine is a pretty great place to explore!  Mike and I finally tried out our new bikes, riding to the Sailors Exchange (we had driven there from St Mary’s in Feburary).   This is a marine style thrift store that has absolutely anything you can imagine for a boat. We then got a Lyft to Mojo’s BBQ and had a late lunch with Ventolines Crew.  Oh.  My.  Word.  This place is amazing.  The food was delicious.  We split the “whole hog” between the 3 of us and still had food left over.  And the price was reasonable.  We walked around a little after.  Dad sat and enjoyed a beer while Mike and I walked around the outside of the fort, Castillo de San Marcos.  We really had no idea of the history of this great town and were fascinated!  So, we spent an extra day and took the trolley on the tour and were able to see a few more points of interest.  The architecture of the Flagler College, formerly the Ponce De Leon hotel is gorgeous.  We missed the guided tour, but will do it the next time we are in town.  We also saw a bit of the Governor’s House and then the Lightener Museum.  This is unlike any museum we have been to.  Apparently, Lightener, from Chicago, would buy up estates after the stock market crash in the 30’s.  This led to his being the owner of an especially eclectic collection of “stuff”.  He bought the Alcaraz Hotel for $150,000 to house his collection.  When this was a hotel, it was unique in that it had the largest indoor swimming pool of the time and this pool had 2 upper, balcony style levels, including a ballroom where Henry Flagler would have orchestra’s play while swimmers enjoyed the pool.  There was also a steam room and various bathing apparatus for his clienteles every whim and well being.  The architecture here is also lovely.  This was the second hotel built by Henry Flagler after bringing his wife to St Augustine for a healthier environment and finding transportation and accommodation lacking. Henry Flagler, if you aren’t aware, was the partner of John D. Rockefeller in the creation of Standard Oil.   Rockefeller had stated that Flagler was the one with the ideas.  Well, he saw a need in St Augustine and not only built a railroad from Jacksonville to Miami, but a hospital, churches, the 2 resort style hotels and several other beneficial businesses.   He bought a 3rd hotel, the Casa Monica from a friend who had built it, then realized it wasn’t going to turn a profit.  Flagler was there, checkbook in hand thereby owning the 3 largest resort hotels all within one block of each other.  He was quite a man!  This is an era of wealthy living that will never be repeated.  It was grand and high end and sparkly and excessive in a way I don’t think we have seen since and won’t see again.  We truly enjoyed our time in St. Augustine and plan to return and spend more time, there.

 

Tonight, as I write, we sit on the hook in the St. Mary’s river.  We will be hauled out at the boat yard, tomorrow morning.  We had a decent motor sail up from St Augustine today with very little wind and almost no height to the sea state.  When we said good bye to Jeff, Jennifer and Wyatt this morning, it was a surreal farewell.  There were many tears shed and I tear up now thinking about having left them.  We had literally been side by side for 3 months.  Besides my mom and brothers, I rarely talk to anyone every day, but that’s how close we have become to this family.  Mike and Jeff have hashed out sailboat issues, speculated on the weather and routes.  Jennifer and I have folded each others laundry and shared midnight Facebook and YouTube finds.  This is a relationship that took us off guard and completely sucked us in!  We have related to each other many times how we are so sure God put us together.  We needed each other for this journey and were happy to oblige.  The timing, our personalities, our gifts and talents, our children’s ages, all these attributes meshed so well, there is no other explanation.  I’m so glad we followed through and went where we were led.

My next post will likely be from South Dakota.  We have projects there to wrap up.  We may try and make a few dollars for the next season, but mostly we will be enjoying our family.  Matthew has never been away from us this long and we really aren’t sure we will do this again.  We miss him madly!  Megan turned 31 today and we will have a party for her after we get back.

If you haven’t checked out our couple of YouTube videos, do that.  They aren’t great, but you can see what we’ve been doing, rather than read about it, if you choose.

Slainte’

Alabaster Bay

When we left Hatchet Bay, we were headed for Governors Harbour.  We decided en route, due to the slightly uncomfortable sea state, that we would cut the passage short and anchor in Alabaster Bay.  This ended up being a great choice!  This bay is gorgeous!  The beach is miles long and the beach combing fruitful.  There were 2 other boats when we came in and the catamaran was gone the next day.

We were able to easily get the dogs to shore, watching when the other boaters had their dogs ashore.  There was also some ruins to explore on the beach and plenty of trees for hanging our hammocks.  A US Navy base was a mile and a half down the road and we walked there to explore.  There are old barracks, gas station, brig, store, absolutely everything that a small base would require.  And it was abandoned.  It turns out that this base played a major role in the Cuban Missile Crisis.  The base was formed to “listen” to submarines off shore in the Atlantic.  It was initially an experimental sight, that ended up being exactly what worked to divert catastrophe.

Jeff and Jennifer rented a car for 2 days.  While they had the car, we were able to explore both ends of Eleuthera.  The first day with the car, we went to Governors Harbour and explored the Ruins of Club Med.  What a place this must have been!  A lot of the buildings are gone, but the pools (with resident ducks), daycare, tennis courts, basketball courts and courtyard  remain.  Every time we tour one of these ruins, it leads to investigation of the site.  I’m always left wondering how these places can just be walked away from.  There were documents here, plans for the future, financial logs, etc.  And they are left, to mold and blow away in the next wind.

After Club Med, we ate lunch at Buccaneers and ventured further south and found church ruins at Bannerman Town and Lighthouse Beach.  This, my friends, is the most beautiful, secluded beach I’ve ever laid eyes on!!  Now, before you hop in your Chrysler and head out there, be forewarned that the road is questionable.  It’s a good thing the Savori’s rented a Jeep, that’s all I’m saying.

Day 2 of the car rental took us north.  We ate at an absolutely amazing restaurant along the way that had the best local cuisine.  It was called Island Something or other and was in Bluff, along the main road.  I had Curry chicken and it was delicious!  There are only a few items on the menu, but they are made to perfection.  Matthew had wings.  When I asked if she had BBQ sauce for them (when he ordered) she said no, but offered to make some~ and she did.  It was sooo good!  Also, when here, don’t trust the bathroom lock…..

We stopped at the Queens Bath just before the Glass Window Bridge.  This is something special.  There are several small pools and caves that fill with water depending on the sea state and tides.  The water varies in temperature and depth per pool.

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We continued up the road to Preacher’s Cave, stopping first at the Sapphire Blue Hole.  This is a salt water pool that is approximately 60 feet deep.  “Blue holes are typically found on shallow carbonate platforms, exemplified by the Bahama Banks…..” (Wikipedia).  It is a sinkhole originating from a limestone cave.  Regardless of how it’s formed, these holes are beautiful and fun.  When we stopped, there was another family there.  Two sons and the mom had made the 30 foot leap into the pool.  We didn’t really talk about jumping, but before we knew it, Matthew had taken off his flip flops and handed his dad his shirt and was preparing to jump.  Mike just had time to turn on his phone and record it!

 

 

 

After the blue hole, we went on to Preachers Cave.  This, readers, is historically very cool. It seems that this is where the first descendants of Eleuthera came, although, not on purpose.  They shipwrecked in 1684 on the Devils Backbone.  This is an especially shallow area to the north and east of the island.  They sought shelter in the cave and this is where the first church service was held on the island.  There is a cemetery, it is unmarked and we were unable to find it.  This cave is pretty large and has several alternate entrances to the grassy knoll above.

After the cave we wondered down a few other narrow roads and found some mangoes.

 

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That night we made hot dogs on the beach.  It was our last night on Alabaster and we were a little sad.  This also marked our turn around point and from here on we are headed back to the states.

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The next leg was making a turn towards New Providence.  This is where Nassau is, the Capitol.  We had no desire to go here (we have been vacationing there every year since 2005) while cruising.  It was, however, on the way.  We anchored at Rose Island.  The sea was bumpy and the anchor kept up the rolling.  When we were nearing Rose Island, Mike caught a fish, that when he pulled it in, had been partially eaten in the process.  We hadn’t had anything like this happen and were a little weirded out….  Also along the way, I had tea in my favorite cup from Lynn and read a little.  I was seasick for part of the day and the tea was comforting.

We sit, now at Hog Cay.  Yesterday we explored Bird Cay and the fascinating story behind it.  This was owned by Francis Frances, who was a descendant of the Rockefeller family (Standard Oil).  He bought the house from his sister, Joe Carstair (now that’s an interesting story- look her up.  There is a book called The Queen of Whale Cay, which I intend to read about her.  Anyhoo- Frances and his wife built a mansion and essentially a compound here and made it their winter home.  Google Bird Cay and see the stories.  It is pretty cool.  The house could be made beautiful again with repairs (a lot of repairs) as it’s not completely ruined.  The bones still look good, to me 🙂  I didn’t get many pictures, mostly video and I haven’t gone through them, yet.  Stay tuned!

This brings me to my next point.  YouTube.  We have posted a few videos.  Let me tell you something…. if you enjoy a YouTube channel or two, appreciate the work that is involved.  It is time consuming editing a video!  It is also HARD!  So, that said, go visit our sight.  And be kind- it’s the beginning and it can only get better.  I look at comments on other channels and wander where people get the idea they are invited to criticize….  How about say something nice, or not at all..  Ok, enough.  Yes, I’m fearful of criticism.  There, I said it.  I’ll continue posting videos either way, as this is a good way for us to save them and show our families.  So there.  Enjoy:

Here’s the link for the latest episode.

My next post will likely be from Florida.  We either have 3 days to go, or straight through any of those days depending on the weather.  Pray for safe travel, if you are so inclined.  I will be flying Matthew to Sioux Falls and bringing my dad back in a week or so.  My brother, Jamie, is calling this the prisoner exchange.  Matthew likens it more to a hostage situation as he is very excited to be going home.  Dad will make the last leg with us.  I’ll be happy to see him, then anxious to get home to my big kids and grandson and the rest of the family.

Until then~ Slainte’

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Continuing South

Holy Moly! What a few weeks it’s been!IMG_20190416_190431_878.jpgThis was a super cool sighting for us! After leaving Hope Town, we were only there the one night, we crossed back over to Marsh Harbour and stayed outside the Abaco Beach Resort for a night. We arrived in some weather and after anchoring, Mike stayed on deck to shower in the rain. The next day, in the marina, Ventolines and Mike spotted this famous tender….. belonging to one of our favorite YouTube channels! We fangirled/fanguyed at the tender, then when we didn’t spot the owners, went back to our boat. Meanwhile, Jennifer just happened to see Riley with baby Lenny approaching and seeing how he had his hands full, offered assistance when they were going aboard the dinghy. I was so incredibly jealous that we missed them by mere minutes! We did see them heading back to the boat, but missed our opportunity at meeting them.Here is Mike showering in the rain (nothing indecent)!20190415_164233.jpgThat night we headed south to stage for our crossing to Eleuthera. The weather has been shifty and we sail when we can, but have had bouts of unfavorable wind- like when it’s on our nose and we have to motor. We were, however able to sail for the most part when we crossed. Here’s is what the wind meter tells us when it’s a “no sail” kind of a day.

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No sailing…

Right. We crossed, leaving from the Lynyard Cay Cut. We sailed the majority and saw some interesting seaweed formations along the way. We also got some nice pictures of Ventolines. Matthew, Falcon and I snuggled- believe it or not, it can get cool on the water and we like to bundle up in the comforters. I was also a little seasick, so this helped.

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The sunset the night we reached Egg Island

When we reached Eleuthera, we anchored initially at Egg Island. There was a small, pretty beach with a swing and table. We took the dogs ashore, they promptly went for a run and while we were looking for them, Meg the dinghy decided to float back to the boat without us. She actually just made it about 20′ offshore and Mike was able to get her pretty quickly. Later that day the guys decided to fish from the dinghy. That was a little scary seeing them out in open water with several actual sized fish boats around them.20190418_111411.jpgMike was doing his usual browsing on Facebook and noticed that Sailboat Story, another of our favorite channels was a few miles away at Meeks Patch. He made contact with them and we all decided to meet up at Royal Island the next day. This was, again, very exciting for us. They have an 8 year old, Molly, who we all adore on their channel and just enjoy them as a family, also. We ended up staying a few nights, the first few being very rolly and uncomfortable and then we had Easter there as well. This was actually a safe harbor and there were soooo many boats around. There isn’t really anything to do there, on shore, however. Jennifer and I managed to find some diverting activity, though…..

Here is the link to Sailboat Story on YouTube:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCX6V3ozIm1SrUVP315YEKNA

EASTER MORNING! HE HAS RISEN!

IMG_20190420_131917_759.jpgHere is what Jennifer and I found: turns out we are both passionate about ruins….

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On Monday, after Easter we all made the jump to Spanish Wells. We stopped at Meeks Patch along the way. The beach on the NW side is beautiful and we opted to go there to avoid the pigs and what could have been a more populated beach. We were able to let the dogs run, Mike snorkeled a little and we just enjoyed the peacefulness of it.

On the way to Meeks Patch, Mike caught a couple fish. Another barracuda and a mutton snapper. He was also in the midst of baking coffee cake- quite the talent my husband is.

When we got to Spanish Wells, we again met up with the Sailboat Story crew. We enjoyed Pappa Scoops ice cream 4 nights in a row. The town is quaint and colorful and has all basic necessities. Budda’s is a great place to eat and they have an African Grey pair that we especially enjoyed.

Mike got a few boat projects done, mostly some varnishing and climbing into the engine room for some work on the genset. We also attempted to color Matthew’s hair. It didn’t take and we were a little disappointed. He did think the plastic bag on his head made him look like a windsock and had fun with that visual.

We bid Sailboat Story adieu in Spanish Wells and we certainly hope we are able to meet up with them again in the future. We had a fun time with their family to be sure!

From Spanish Wells, we carried on to Current Cay. We spent a few nights there and this was by far my favorite part of the journey to date. I can’t say why exactly, except that we had one almost perfect day. Matthew and I had jumping off the boat contests and were swinging from the boom on a rope into the water with Wyatt. Jeff, Mike and Wyatt went snorkeling and Jennifer and I SUPed (stand up paddleboard) and combed the beach. It was relaxing, the weather was perfect and for whatever reason, I was at complete peace. Wyatt also told me that he felt it was a perfect day, so I wasn’t alone. Something that we found interesting was that there was a black dog on shore. People came and went a few times and there were 2 structures there. The dog would occasionally come down and bark at us, but when we went to shore he wouldn’t approach. Jennifer tried…. haha

As I write we are sitting in Hatchet Bay. This, is where we came when we sailed on Mambo with Bruce and Colleen 2 years ago. We reintroduced ourselves to Pete, whom we met at that time as well. He and his wife, Bonnie have been coming here for years. His car is what Bruce drove to pick us up from the airport.  We have met Emmett who owns and operates the convenience store and bar and restaurant at the public dock. He is very nice and eager to please. His grandson, also Emmett, is younger than our boys, but they have formed a friendship quickly. I love that about these kids!20190502_181800-1.jpg

A couple days ago we hitched a couple rides to the Glass Window.  This is a bridge that originally had a rock arch beneath it, which has long since been swept away in a storm.  On one side, the north is the raging Atlantic Ocean.  On the other, south side, is a quiet and tranquil Eleuthera Sound.  It’s quite the contrast.  I have seen videos where the Atlantic is fiercely blowing over the bridge.  This day it was rather calm.

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Yesterday, we hitched a ride to the Hatchet Bay Caves.  My knee and hip were hurting, so I opted to stay up top.  I went down a very short way, then took out my book and read while the rest of the group explored.  Apparently there’s 2 miles of cave to explore and they figure they got to about a mile of it.

We had explored Gregory town a little while here on Mambo.  We decided to walk around there a little bit today and see if anything had changed.  It hadn’t.  It’s a cute little burg with a little more happening than in Alice Town at Hatchet Bay.

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Today, we are bound for Governors Harbour.  This is the route we took with Bruce when the infamous “knock down” took place on Mambo.  This is when the boat heels over so far, a spreader touches the water.  The spreader is what keeps the standing rigging away from the mast.  We didn’t completely knock the boat down, but it was close.  The weather is a little calmer today and we don’t anticipate anything remotely similar.

We have been talking more frequently of when we will be turning around to head back to the states.  The Florida Keys is somewhere we may head to first, we are still undecided.  At some point in the next few days, we want to try and nail down some dates to shoot for, so we can get my dad back on board.  The weather determines everything, so our “nails” have to be flexible.  I’m a little sad at the talk of going back, as our trip was about 2 months shorter than it should have been due to the boat yard work.  Next season will be a longer one and Mike has said this has been a “get our feet wet and see what still needs done” season.  Of course he’s right.  I feel like this life truly suits me, I love the boat life and meeting people and waking up to the sound of water and breezes.  I also ache to go home and see my kids and parents and brother and friends and church family.  There is a very small part of me that misses having regular and reliable mail service and the conveniences that go along with our easy life at home.

 

OK~ enough of that~

And another thing~  we have been playing around with a YouTube channel.  Check it out at your leisure.  There is only a single video for now- but we have some footage we will try and edit into something more interesting.  Eventually.

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCMlOgYZH_RLjaByUCGBW56Q

 

From Green Turtle Cay to Hope Town

I mentioned Green Turtle in our last blog.  We have bounced around the Abaco’s since then.  There were plans to  cross over to Eleuthera, but the weather has been prohibitive, unfortunately.  Truly, anywhere here is good and enjoyable and we don’t mind the delays.

Some of the activities we have enjoyed so far are exploring the islands, snorkeling and paddle boarding, sea life watching and reading  The weather has been mostly low 80’s, humidity in the 80-90%, winds 10-20 knots from the south and occasionally squalls that get us up and moving quickly in the night to close all the hatches and portlights (windows).  Mike bought an inflatable stand up paddleboard when we were in the boat yard.  When I inflated it, I noticed an air leak around the inflation site.  I fixed that (I think) with 5200 adhesive.  The first time using it, I lost the detachable main fin.  It slides in and has a clip to hold it in place.  I guess this wasn’t a great bit of engineering.  Now, when paddle boarding, steering straight is a challenge.  It’s still fun, so I’ll keep using it.  I hope I can replace the missing fin, eventually.

One disappointing sight is the amount of plastic rubbish on the beaches.  We were anchored at Black Point for 2 nights and spent time on the beach and exploring an abandoned house.  We gathered the trash that was nearest the water and tried to pile it up where it wouldn’t make it’s way back into the ocean.  Mike considered having a bonfire and burning some of it, but we ended up not doing that as we weren’t sure of the rules here. So far, this has been our routine when going ashore on any island that isn’t populated.

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Treasure Cay has a beach that is one of the top 10 in the world.  It is long and white and calm and gorgeous!  We picked up a mooring ball (a fixed type of device that has a buoy type ball and a rope that a boat attaches to, rather than dropping an anchor) here and spent a few nights.  It is a touristy area, which isn’t really our speed, but it was nice to have a “real” shower and get some laundry done.  The kids enjoyed the pool and we played on the beautiful, clean beach and had a meal of snapper and Bahamian mac and cheese.

When we made our way into Marsh Harbour, we were happy to see Mambo again and anchored just forward of him.  He was able to advise us more on a few points of Bahamian travel, where to get some provisions, have lunch, etc.  While here, we were able to get our My Island Wifi.  This is a Bahamian hotspot, so we have wifi nearly everywhere we go.  This is a blessing for keeping in touch with family and writing this blog.  It’s $75 a month and we rented it for 2 months.  Considering the poor mobile service we were getting, this seemed like the most reasonable thing to do.  So far we are very pleased with how it’s working.   Getting to facetime with grandson Luc is a highlight we look forward to.

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There have been a few little islands we have anchored at.  Everyday is a gamble where we are, where the wind will be coming from, will the waves reach us, will we have a comfortable night or a rocky one?  This means that each day is begun with a discussion on whether or not we are moving or staying put.  Today, we are anchored outside Hope Town.  Inside the bay there are mooring buoys that average $25 night from what we have gathered.  Anchoring is free, so we are happier to do that and dinghy to shore as we need to.  Today, however, the sea is a little rough for the ride into town on Meg, the dinghy.  This leads to the next question; will we spend the night here, again?  We are pretty far out, so we could move closer to shore.  It’s shallow closer in and the wind looks like it will switch and be coming from the Northeast, whereas  now, it’s Southeast.  So, we will potentially have less protection.  We are bouncing around quite a bit right now with waves and motor boat traffic.  I don’t mind it too much, but there is always the question of the anchor dragging on our boat, or someone else’s.   I am beginning to lose track of where have been and where we just stopped to play or rest and where we actually anchored.

 

Hope Town is a really interesting little settlement.  The population is only 450 residents.  It was established just after the American Revolutionary War by Loyalists escaping America.  They originally fled to Florida, then when the Spanish lost the territory to America, they came here.  The streets are amazingly narrow and are open to foot traffic only.  Golf carts and bicycles are the main means of transportation outside the center of town.  The buildings appear to be old stick built, colonial styled structures.  I read that any new building must blend in.  The houses are all very colorful as well, pinks, turquoise, blues, greens, orange, giving a vivid, quaint appearance that pulls one in to explore.  The character of the place is really welcoming.  In the harbor, there are several docks, at the grocery store, at restaurants, also public docks.  Cruisers are really made to feel welcome.  On the Atlantic side of the Island (a 5 minute walk from the public dock) there is a beach with a sand dune dividing the 2 sides of the island.  At the base of the harbor side is a “cholera cemetery” that dates to the 1850’s.  Over 100 residents died at the time of the outbreak.  Another interesting bit of Hope Town trivia is the Lighthouse.  It is a lovely white and red candy striped structure.  What makes it unique is that is one of only a few lighthouses that still uses kerosene and a fresnel lens, in the world.  If you have read Jimmy Buffet’s book “A Salty Piece of Land” he talks about this type of light.  Here is a summary from http://visithopetown.com/lighthouse.html

Hope Town Lighthouse
Hope Town is the home to the famous Elbow Reef Lighthouse. Probably the most recognizable landmark in Abaco, the lighthouse is one of the last manual lighthouses in the world. The lamp burns pressurized Kerosene oil with a wick and mantle. The Fresnel lenses concentrate the mantle’s light into a beam directed straight towards the horizon. The lenses and burner equipment, weighing 8,000lbs, float in a circular lubricated tub. This reduces friction so that the 700lbs of weight, when wound up to the top of the tower by hand, smoothly rotates the 4-ton apparatus once every 15 seconds. The lighthouse keeper on duty must wind up the weights every 2 hours in order for the red and white candy-striped lighthouse to be seen from 17 miles away.

When coming into Hope Town, I was reminded of one of my favorite verses in scripture from Hebrews.  Of course there are several reasons it resonates with me, hope, anchor, etc.  But here is the scripture in it’s length.  The hope referenced is God’s unchanging nature.  Having a firm and secure anchor and having the confidence in it while at sea is invaluable.  I can appreciate this reference more than ever, now after having relied on a secure holding anchor holding.

‘We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, ‘

Hebrews 6:19
https://my.bible.com/bible/111/HEB.6.19

The Ventolines crew has had a stomach bug for several days, probably the Noro virus.  We have kept our distance and so far we are virus free.  We have felt terrible for them, however and tried to be supportive and provide medical advice.  They seem to be on the mend, presently and we can’t wait to get together again.  Hanging out with our buddy boat family has been a highlight of this trip and we have missed it!  The boys, especially are missing each other.  With Easter approaching, Jennifer and I were hoping to get to shore and get a few treats purchased.

There was a couple in Treasure Cay that Mike was able to provide some medical reassurance for.  They were anticipating taking a flight somewhere to see a doctor about an eye issue the gentleman was having.  Mike was able to help them out and they were happy to not have to fly somewhere and be able to continue on their way.   I hope we are serving our “purpose” for this trip.  I wasn’t sure what to expect, but we have distributed a few of the items we brought along and just hope we are a blessing to those we come in contact with.  As time goes along, I can only imagine we will get better at being a light for Him.  On the other hand, isn’t this what we are supposed to be doing, anyway, regardless of where we are?


Right.  So, our next passage is to Eleuthera.  This is where we spent a week on Mambo, 2 years ago.  We really enjoyed our time there and are looking forward to going back and seeing more of the island.  Matthew remembers hitch hiking there to get around and is looking forward to doing so again, haha.  Hopefully the wind and waves will be favorable to cross either tomorrow or Wednesday.  That’s what we are praying for. 


Until next time~

Slainte’

 

Hello Beautiful Bahamas!

After 2 weeks of waiting for the right weather in West Palm Beach, we were finally able to cross.

While in West Palm, we kept busy. There were errands to run, chores and laundry and all the usual household chores. Mike and Jeff, from Ventolines, made a trip to Ft Lauderdale to purchase a watermaker kit and that was installed. This is big news for us. I like to rinse the deck with fresh water, rinse the dogs, shower, etc without worry. This is such a blessing! Mike also had to go up the mast several times to replace a broken halyard. You can get seasick when you are 60 ft in the air when the boat is rolling. Thank you very much motor boats for the wake!!

We also went to the Manatee Lagoon and Loggerhead marine hospital. These were fun and very informative. However, the manatee still elude me. I’ve been pursuing Barbara Manatee (my fellow Veggie Tale fans will know what I’m talking about) for a year and have still not seen one!!
The day we spent out at the Lagoon, etc we were bringing provisions back to the boat and were watching flashing blue lights that appeared to be near Voyager. As we got home, we could see that the law enforcement boats were nearby and one approached us. Due to our recent history while here (see last post) we were a little defensive. They were, however, warning us that there was to be a fireworks display in about 30 minutes and our boat was in the downfall. We explained it would take us a bit to move as our dinghy was full of provisions and we had to get them aboard, etc. Mike also had to address an oil overfill before we could start the motor. Matthew was terrified because they used “we don’t want your boat to catch fire” as a nudge for us to take them seriously. In the end, we got things sorted and moved a short distance up wind to watch the fireworks then went back to our anchorage. The dogs were exhausted and we wondered how hard they worked while protecting Voyager from the police while we were gone.

We decided late Saturday the 30th of March that we would cross the next morning. We had a completely random message from Bruce on Mambo. He is who we sailed with 2 years ago in the Bahamas on a charter. We learned so much from him that trip and had arranged to crew with him last May. We weren’t able to as the weather didn’t cooperate (see first few blog posts). Now, Bruce contacts us, out of the blue and he is in the same anchorage! He and Mike talked after several facebook messages and after a long discussion, Jeff and Mike conferred and we made plans to cross the next morning rather than waiting for evening. We were just blown away that not only did the Lord send us Ventolines, but now He placed Mambo, with his decades of experience here with us, as well! He is so good to us! Matthew had kayaked over to Ventolines for a sleep over, so we made plans for him to come home early the next morning before departure.


At approximately 0630 Sunday, we were ready to move out. It took a little bit longer, but the excitement was tangible. We set a course and off we went. We had just gotten into the gulf stream when Mambo called and said he was having concerns over his engine temp. Mike and he brainstormed a little and Mike commented on how much seaweed we had in our strainer and he might want to check that. Not long after, Ventolines called and were having motor problems. Their Raycor (fuel filter) was plugged. The sea was rolling and there wasn’t great wind for sailing, so Jeff raised his main to try to stabilize the boat while he worked on it. After an hour and a half or so, they decided they would probably need to call a tow boat. Working in a hot engine room with diesel fumes and rolling seas is not fun. This was terrible news. They wanted us to go on, but we were reluctant. We were barely off shore and we weren’t sure we wanted to leave them. If we had been further out, we definitely wouldn’t have. Mambo had just let us know he had reversed his prop and unloaded a bunch of seaweed that was wrapped on. This took care of his overheating. Since he was out there, headed the same direction, we conceded to go on. I cried as Mike increased our speed and we pulled away. It was an absolutely awful feeling!

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About an hour later, we get a call on the radio from Ventolines. Jeff had continued to work on the motor rather than call for a tow and they were running and underway! Matthew and I screamed for joy! What a relief this was! We had originally planned to anchor south of Memory rock, but then decided to make Mangrove Cay. We came in after dark. I hadn’t slept well for the last few nights and my perception was questionable. We could see a few other boats anchored, but were unable to determine just where they were and how far. The island is very small and about a mile in the distance. Since we were in very shallow water on the Little Bahama Bank, we decided to just drop the hook there rather than trust our judgement any closer in. We were also thinking about Mambo and Ventolines coming in after us and wanting to be visible for them. I went to bed almost immediately. I sat outside and prayed and thanked our Lord for the blessings of the day. The stars were so bright and felt so close, it was mesmerizing! Mike sat up waiting for Ventolines. He had radio contact with Mambo, who was going on until he was tired, but was unable to get ahold of Jeff. Mambo passed on where we were so they knew to look for us. Jeff told us later that when they were approaching, he recognized Voyager by the dim lights. The other boats, although further away were brighter. Our anchor light was out and Mike has rigged a solar garden light to our stay as a temporary fix. We laughed at his recounting of seeing us, dim as we were. Mike said he was watching a movie and still hadn’t heard from them, when a spotlight came through the portlight. He said it startled him and he wondered who the heck was spotlighting us way out there…. Jeff, that’s who! HAHA!

The next day we made for Crab Cay at the north end of Little Abaco. This was a beautiful bay with a few other boats anchored in. Mike had caught a few barracuda and a king mackerel on the crossing. Ventolines crew came over for supper and we enjoyed the mackerel with rice and salad with brownies for dessert. It was marvelous. It was so good to sit in our cockpit with these precious people again! I’m still so grateful they were able to come on!

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We reached Green Turtle Cay yesterday afternoon. We were at low tide, so had to sit outside the sound for a few hours. Our boat needs 5 ft 4 in of water and the inlet is only 4 ft at low tide and 7 feet at high tide. The wind was blowing higher than expected and the anchorage was rocky. It was still nice to sit out on the deck and read while waiting for the tide to raise. We made plans to anchor somewhere more sheltered if there was no mooring or dock available inside. When 4:30pm came around Donny’s Marina came through and offered us 1 mooring and 1 dock space. We took the dock and Ventolines took the mooring. Docking is so nerve wracking. We have done alright so far, but I get terribly anxious every time. There were 3 people waiting for us to catch lines and we managed just fine.

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Total distance with stops= 180kt miles

As I write, Mike and Jeff are off to Customs and Immigration to get that sorted. I can’t wait to take the dogs for a good walk and explore the area. Green Turtle Cay is someplace that everyone who has been here, loves and raves about. There is a ton of history and I’m especially interested in the Loyalist history after the Revolutionary War.
Right. So, that’s where we are and what’s been happening. I have no idea what the plans are from here. What I do know is the Spirit will lead us.
Slainte’

Hallelujah- We are on our way!!!

On March 4th, at sunset, we were launched from the boat yard! Because we were launched so late in the day, it meant we were also anchoring in the dark, in a 7 knot current, with 6 foot tides and a very narrow channel. We reset our anchor 5 times that night, with a good set finally being attained the next morning at 0600. It was not a restful night, but we were sooooo very happy to be floating again!

We wrapped up a few projects and were finally able to be underway on Friday. S/V Ventolines had contacted us Thursday evening. They are the friends we had met in Brunswick, who had also had some delays. They were currently anchored just a few miles from us! So, on Friday morning, we all set sail for a few miles off shore and headed south.

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I can not begin to express the jubilation and excitement leaving that river had on us! The only down side, was that I had just had news that my aunt, the closest adult I had besides my parents and grandma, who had been on a ventilator for more than a month, had made the decision to stop all efforts that day. So, as we bobbed and rolled and sailed that day (it was a rolling sea), I grieved for my aunt. If we had still been in the yard, I probably would have lost my mind! The sea is truly therapeutic and I spent most of the next 24 hours crying and praying. Mike and Matthew were understanding and just let me mourn.

We were at sea for about 36 hours when we crept into Cape Canaveral. There was another channel, a lift bridge and a lock system. The lift bridge and lock being entirely new experiences. I think we managed like rockstars and were feeling pretty good until we saw where we were to dock. Docking a boat is likened to a controlled crash. Put the controlled crash between 2 pylons and a 10 foot long dock and things get tense. We knew it was coming and with the motor in neutral as soon as we nosed in, we used the gaffs, ropes and a very nice gentleman from another boat, we only knicked the bow a little.

We stayed at the Harbortown Marina for 3 nights. We were able to do some laundry, ate a few good meals and had fellowship with the Sivori family whom until now we had only had radio contact with for 2 days. Wyatt and Matthew get along so well, as do the adults. Mike and Jeff tuned the rigging of both boats and discussed all kinds of other projects, goals and plans. The boys swam, Jennifer and I went to Goodwill. It was a great place to rest for a few days.

We then proceeded south on the ICW. We looked at the weather and decided if we had to motor, we might as well stay a little more comfortable. This also gave us the chance for more practice with the bridges and anchoring. Since anchoring in the channel outside the boatyard, I had some anxiety about it.

Our first ICW anchorage was called Serenity. Some of you will understand why this name has special meaning to us. We had a short dinghy trip to shore on an isolated island and the dogs loved it. They swam and smelled everything. We had our buddy boat over for spaghetti and had a grand time. I still worried over the anchor all night however, despite us not moving even a little…..

Our second anchorage was near Vero beach. We were adjacent a bridge and there was a restaurant with a dinghy dock. Conchy Joes had delicious food. I had a grapefruit and fennel green salad with mahi mahi. It was soooo good! Mike had fish tacos which he claimed were equally delicious and Matthew had his usual burger. There was also a fishing pier and boat ramp at a park and we were able to give the dogs a good walk. It was a quiet night and yet I still checked our anchor all night long.

Our 4th leg brought us to West Palm Beach. We are in a huge anchorage with a prominent police presence (more on this later). There are cruise ships, mega yachts, various trawlers, fishing vessels and sailboats. We have access to the Palm Beach Sailing Club and their facilities. We can shower there, use the dinghy dock and participate in any events. Due to the weather, we will be sitting here until the next weekend. I have relaxed my anchoring worries a little while here and sleep has been welcomed. Last night we had some strange tides and wind, Voyager rocked and rolled enough that the hook holding our fruit and veggie hammocks came out! Still our Rocna 20 held! This is a confidence booster for us (me mostly).

Right- Police Presence. Well, as soon as we had set the hook, we lowered the dinghy and took the dogs to shore. We were about half way there and were pulled over by a young, zealous GFP officer. We were speeding. We also didn’t have our paperwork onboard. Mike had somehow thought to take his wallet, so we at least had some ID onboard. He gave us a warning and stern lecture on knowing the local rules. We thanked him and were on our way. After that, we have proceeded very slowly in our dinghy and I took pictures of our paperwork to keep on my phone for reference. Well, 3 nights later, we are towing Jeff on their tender, the motor had given out. It was dusk and I was using a spotlight in the bow. We are about 1/2 way back to the boats when we are pulled over, again! Same officer. He starts in on how neither of our boats have a 360 light….. Mike explains, the motor had broke down, hence the towing and we weren’t anticipating being this late, etc. The officer then recognizes Mike and says, “I’ve already stopped you once, I’m not giving you anymore warnings after this one!”. He then looks at Jeff and says, “do you have ANY documentation to show this boat is yours?” Jeff read him off the registration number, using military phonetics and promised to have a 360 light and the officer calmed down a little. While we have seen several vessels pulled over for speeding, etc, ours have been the only dinghy’s we have seen pulled over, most are power boats and wave runners leaving a significant wake. Most tenders around us have gone much faster and there have been no other 360 lights. As Jeff said, “that guy has a special place in his heart for Mike, now”. HAHA! Both guys report the police are very visible on shore as well. Florida has a reputation for harassing cruisers and I guess we are an easy target.

We came in last Thursday, the 11th. Saturday while Mike and Jeff went to Ft. Lauderdale for a water maker (YAY!!!) Jennifer and the boys and I took Meg (dinghy) over to Peanut Island. Its a lovely spot with beaches and a campground with a walking trail around the perimeter. There is supposed to be a museum, but it wasn’t open. Apparently President Kennedy had a bunker here during the Cuban Missile Crisis. His family’s beach house is just across the island from us, about 1 mile on the Atlantic side.

Mike took the dogs for their health exams today, so we are ready for our crossing as soon as the weather permits. As I write, Wyatt and Matthew are playing nerf guns and running, yes running all over the boat, up on the deck and down below. It’s very noisy and screetchy and I wouldn’t change it. Matthew has been missing his “brothers”, Kadrian, Kyrihn and Kyuss like crazy as well as nephew Luc and niece, El. Having Wyatt has eased his homesickness and having Jennifer to relate to on this journey has been a blessing for me, as well. Mike and Jeff get along like they’ve always known each other- it’s amazing. I can’t not believe that all our delays and frusterations were where God was leading us to these people to buddy boat with. I’m so thankful He put us in each others path!

Right- as we sit here, waiting for our chance to get our passage to the Bahamas started, Mike has put the water maker in, we are just waiting for the pump to arrive tomorrow. He has also completed a few other projects, shower drain pump, deck pump, etc. He wants me to post the complete list of all he has done since buying the boat, but I’m not up to that. Maybe he will have to do his own blog post 😉

Boat schooling is going pretty well. Matthew has a standardized test next week that I’m a little anxious for. The wifi and computer have to be a certain strength and settings. If we have been able to make our passage, I’ll have to make sure those requirements are met by Monday. Perhaps we can find a library to use the computer. We will be praying for all this to fall into place as everything else has.

Slainte’

PS Check out Sailing Ventolines on Facebook and Instagram

PSS I highly recommend Max Lucado’s book on Anxiety; Anxious For Nothing: Finding Calm in a Chaotic World

PSSS Sitting on the hook in windy, rolly seas can also make one seasick 😦