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 😦

Boat Yard Life Episode 2

 

I haven’t written in awhile. I will attribute this to the old adage “if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything”.

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A pretty Island Packet that was just hauled out. This is how close we are to the lift.

While this is mostly true, our life here hasn’t been bad. We have met some extremely nice people. We have made some friends. Boat schooling is going pretty well. We aren’t in the frozen tundra of South Dakota. Being here for the last 6 weeks isn’t where we planned on being, and this has led me to being a little resentful of being away from family and friends to just “sit here”. One of the first people we met said, “when you’re sailing, you learn to let go of plans”. Touche.

One of the friends we have made, Chris (S/V Water Frog) has spent the last solid year making repairs that weren’t in her survey, which, interestingly, was also done by the same surveyor we had. She wasn’t able to sail for a couple years, so didn’t begin getting her boat ready immediately, thereby wasn’t aware of the true condition of her boat. The resident boatbuilder, Ron, who has somewhere around 35 years experience has been overseeing Mike’s work and making recommendations on how to proceed with Voyager. John, the rigger had a similar situation with his boat and was able to tell us right away when we hauled out, what the problem was with our deck. Rocky and his family have been amazing. This is his yard and he lives on site. His son, Clayton, 5, has entertained us with his driving prowess (he sits behind the wheel of side by sides, a dirt bike, the heavy forklift, basically anything with wheels) and has kept Matthew busy on his trampoline and playing.

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Chris climbing the mast of Water Frog.

Ron has said he would happily put his name on any work Mike has done. The gentleman in the Tayana next to us has tried relentlessly to get Mike to work on his boat. When he realized Mike is actually a physician by trade, he couldn’t believe it. John has offered Mike a job doing the wood work on his boat. I guess if we wanted to stay here indefinitely, he could have a job!

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Wet deck core.

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Wet deck.

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Finished port deck and new rigging.

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Finished port side cabinetry.

I, meanwhile, teach Matthew and we go on field trips. I keep the dogs out of the way and try to keep them safely exercised. I help Mike when I can. I’ve mixed epoxy, held the backs of nuts and bolts, removed stanchions and plates, pulled a portlight to replace, painted and painted and painted, sanded the new fiberglass on the deck (I WILL NEVER DO THIS AGAIN) and I clean the galley before I prepare every meal, due to the constant dust from the construction.

 

 

 

Some of the sites we have taken in are the submarine museum, the Cumberland Island Museum, the Amelia Island Museum, the Tabby Sugar Mill and various restaurants. A block from the yard, I found an old, very small cemetery. There’s a stone there for a Revolutionary War soldier! We have met some friendly dog owners at the dog park and boat schooled at the parks nearby. We have learned about local mushrooms due to Katniss deciding it was a good idea to taste several varieties we found in a local park. This was a scary occurrence and we are still keeping an eye on her to make sure she is ok. This dog is constantly pushing the limits on safe activity. She eats everything and gets herself into some perilous situations routinely! She has worn me out cleaning up after her! Because of this, she is well known in the yard, not something I’m especially proud of.

 

All in all, this is part of the adventure. We are learning as we go and making friends. No experience is wasted and we are hopefully blessing those around us as they are blessing us.

We have been advised to write a letter to the certifying agency of the surveyor we used due to the number of issues that weren’t listed on the survey. While we haven’t done this yet, we are certainly considering it. We just aren’t sure how much more energy and time we want to give this, other than getting the boat repaired and back in the water. On one of my walks, I found a house down the road. It resembles a mansion and is considered a “handyman special”. There’s a dilapidated tennis court, fountain, pool, etc. The asking price is less than we sold our house for. I jokingly said if we were going to be here awhile, we might as well take on another house rebuild, too. At least the dogs would have a yard while we worked…..

Slainte’    _/)

Why are we living in the boatyard when we are supposed to be sailing?

Murphy’s Law/ Myers Law/ God’s Timing~

Maybe I should just learn that my timing and urgency isn’t necessarily the Ultimate Plan.  Maybe, I need to learn patience and not to rush my plan.  I’m guessing this is the lesson.  On Saturday at about noon, we threw off the dock lines and headed for the fuel dock on our way out of Brunswick.  After fueling up and dumping the head, we departed.  ONE mile and just across the bridge we encountered the first problem.  While checking the engine, Mike found that the front of the engine was streaming antifreeze and steaming.  Mike had replaced all the hoses on the engine, except one that wasn’t included in the hose kit from American Diesel.  The piece of hose (an old rubber cap) that wasn’t replaced cracked and antifreeze was streaming out of the engine.  So, Mike and Dad devised a plug and got her rigged so we could make it to an anchorage.  We were by now about 1 1/2 hours behind schedule.

 

The channel leaving Brunswick has markers 8 miles into the sea.  Therefore we have to motor or sail that far out before turning south.  We opted to cruise out of the ICW because it gets a little hairy behind Jekyl Island and we weren’t wanting to risk running aground.  However, we got out to the last marker and the seas were pretty rolly.  It wasn’t scary and the wind was only 9-11 knots from the NE, but it wasn’t comfortable.  We had 3-6 foot seas coming from what seemed like every direction, but was mainly the north.  We got our cutter sail up and headed south.  The temp was in the 60’s and the breeze was brisk. (Side note; I’ve been wearing my North Face coat most days since leaving SD.  Not something I thought would happen.  Funny how one climatizes so quickly.)  Mike was pretty seasick after he went below deck checking the engine.  Matthew had a bit of a meltdown, then decided that he was comfortable on the floor of the aft cabin wrapped in his blanket.

 

We had by now decided we weren’t going to make it to our original destination of St Marys river at the southern end of Cumberland Island.  We chose the northern end in the ICW (Intercoastal Waterway AKA The Ditch) to anchor for the night.  This took several hours to reach and was after dark as we came in to St Andrews Sound.  We were praying the GPS was accurate as this was new territory for us and there are shallows several miles into the Ocean.  At our first marker approaching the sound, we hit 9′ depths.  Our draw is 5’4″, thankfully, but that was a little uncomfortable.  With Mike and Dad both watching for the markers, we made it safely to our anchorage and dropped the hook.  We then made supper and settled in for the night.

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Erin; helmswoman, galley slave.

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Car carrier passing us as we headed out the channel at Brunswick.

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Awaking to an amazing sunrise, we broke our fast and headed down the Ditch for St Marys.  On our way, we had a few other very shallow areas (6-7′ in one place) and passed a Navy Submarine Base.  This was very cool.  There is a large “degaussing” station in the channel to navigate around.  Apparently some cruisers have been witness to subs coming into the base.  Unfortunately, this wasn’t to be for us.  We made it to the mouth of the North River, where we would approach the boat yard to haul out to paint the bottom.  We anchored for about an hour and made lunch and waited for high tide.  The approach is a narrow river that is shallow at low tide.  We followed succinct directions that are provided by the yard and made it without problem.  About 3/4 in we had a dolphin escort, which was fun.  We had seen a few along the way, as well- it’s always exciting.

When we arrived we were pulled into the lift backwards.  We hadn’t hauled out before, so this was all new to us.  These men are skilled, let me tell ya.  I had minimal maneuvering to do, as they guided us and pulled on Voyager with gaffs.  As soon as we were in the sling, they assisted us off the boat.  I walked the dogs and tried to keep the peace between our dogs and the yard dogs.  I soon saw Mike approaching with a not so happy look on his face.  It seems that one of the crew noticed “oil canning” on our starboard side.  This is basically a deformation of the hull- it looks like dents.  This is caused by a weakness in the deck with the knee, hull and deck beginning to separate.  Not good news for us!  If we hadn’t hauled out to paint the bottom at Mike’s insistence it could have been detrimental for us.  The rigging attaches to the chain plate.  The chain plate attaches to the knee.  The knee is supported by the hull and the deck. In a strong wind or rocky sea, this could lead to a de-masting of our boat.  (A few years ago we had experienced a de-masting on our MacGregor 25- that was traumatic enough- nothing compared to what this would have been.)  We discovered the deck was weak from previous water damage and had bulged upward 3/8 of an inch.  The tabbing on the hull that attaches the knee to the hull had separated 1/4 of an inch.  When will I learn to listen when Mike is feeling particularly led to do something?

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Freshly painted hull

 

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Dad scraping the bottom.

So- that night, Sunday, we painted the bottom of the boat with 3 coats.  Voyager remained in the sling and we discussed and prayed about the situation.  We were happy to find that a boat builder and rigger were both available for consultation as well as the many other “experts” who live or hanging around the yard.

The next morning after all the opinions were made, it was decided we have at least 1, maybe 2 or 3 weeks of work to do.  Voyager was presently unsafe and needed to be dealt with.  After coming out of the sling and put on stands, the hull shape improved, minimally.  Where the deck was raising at the placement of the chain plates, weight was applied.  That also helped, minimally.  Mike began ripping into the interior cabinets on the starboard side.  He found the interior woodwork was rotten and easy to remove.  Thankfully, he didn’t feel he needed to dismantle the fronts, where the stained glass doors and beautiful teak wood work are appealing to look at.  An assessment and more conversations, now also including the man who conducted our survey, showed where the fiberglass on the hull was separating from the knee.  More bad news.

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Showing how the new support will go threw this slates and be fiberglassed into place.

 

Now, Mike has rigged a frame inside the boat that stabilizes the hull and it has regained the shape.  When he did this, our aft cabin door began closing easily.  We had thought humidity was to blame for the difficulty in closing it the last few days.  So, with that sorted, a plan for restructuring and reinforcing was made.  Ron, the boat builder and John, the rigger have made several stops to see how she’s looking and make suggestions and guide Mike through the process.  This week, beginning tomorrow, we will move into a motel while the fiberglass work is done.  The dust and fumes will make it necessary.  This is absolutely not what we had planned on happening and are pretty disappointed.  However, since it has happened, we are grateful that it was found here.  This is a one-of-a- kind place with helpful, friendly people and great service.  We aren’t wonting for much.

 

 

Sean flew in to Sanford/Orlando Friday night.  I went to pick him up and we returned to the boat at 0200.  He and dad will fly back to South Dakota Monday.  The boat is going to feel so lonely!  My mother’s heart has been so happy to have Sean here and Dad has been with us for nearly a month.  I’ll miss the company and old stories.

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Eating around the frame that’s keeping the hull’s shape.

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Cemetery at St Marys. the oldest grave is marked 1801, we saw 1802. A Revelutionary war Captain claims the oldest marked grave.

Yesterday, we explored St Marys a little.  Unfortunately, due to the government shutdown, the Cumberland Island museum and all services are closed.  We had fun, anyway.  We have also discovered a fantastic dog park and spend time there, everyday.  We have met other dog owners there and enjoy visiting with them.  We woke up today to a calendar notification on my phone telling us it’s our anniversary!  After 11 years, I finally have a reminder that we notice.  Mike and I are neither one good at remembering this, for some reason.  Maybe we will get a lunch out as a reward- haha!

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“Happy Anniversity” from Matthew.

Right- so I think I’ll sign off, here.  There is much work to be done and writing this blog post has been a process- it’s been lost and revamped and I’ve been trying for awhile to attach photos.  The Wifi is sketchy and Mike likes to review the details of what’s happened to be honest and precise.  Here’s a couple provisioning pictures (remember how much I was dreading that task), the second also shows the cabinetry I was hoping to save.

 

 

So- with that said-

Slainte’

We have moved onto the boat~ now what?

We made it.  We arrived in Brunswick December 28th at 0200.  We were beat, had a decent sleep then welcomed friends from South Dakota aboard at 1100.  We have been here a week and a day, now, it feels like longer and I want to get out of the marina.  The boat work continues and we still need to provision.

 

I’ve been reading Sailing Totem (veteran sailors that have been cruising with their kids for over 10 years) posts on provisioning and feeling a little less anxious.  She really tries to buy fresh food where they are, but takes into account the high cost of destinations.  The Bahamas are a high cost destination.  All produce is imported, as well as everything else.  Since the thought of doing without “fresh” produce almost consumes me, this has been a good blog to be reading.

Ok~ enough~ what have we been doing?

Getting “stuff” put away, organizing, changing our minds and reorganizing, Mike has gotten the solar up and wired, but now finds that our old panels from Summer Breeze are working marvelously, while the 4 new panels are barely working at all.  He has fixed a leak in our hanging locker and gotten the dingy outboard running smoothly.  I got the safety net put up and feel like it looks pretty good (I was skeptical).  Have bagged up dog food and made a few decisions on how to stow that (huge endeavor with 2 large dogs on board), made lists and more lists.

 

Matthew has made 2 friends, Max is 15, Wyatt is 9.  The younger one and Matthew seem to have really hit it off.  We hope to see this family in the Bahamas later.  Based on the current outlook, they could be behind us a couple weeks.

So, what’s left to do?  The lists is as follows:

-fix the diesel leaks, there are 2

-finish the solar

-install the refinished handrail on the aft deck

-put trim pieces on the kitchen sink counter

-provision

-replace boom lift block

-Replace the traveler block

-jerry can boards

-install closet shelves

-investigate DC power for the fridge

-install a pvc pipe to house the small propane bottles for the grill

Still a list…. granted several of these can be sorted in a day, but the big items have taken over and demanded more time than expected.  Add to this that I have had a cold and have now shared it with my Dad and maybe Mike this has slowed us down somewhat.  Matthew has not succumbed and has kept busy with his video games and toys when not working on school work.  We have taken the kayaks out some and he has fished off the dock with Max and we went down to the Yacht Club on New Years Eve.  We aren’t the social butterflies most cruisers are, so the New Years Eve celebrations were fun, for about an hour, then we went home and played Phase 10.  I’m sure we will make more trips to the club events before we leave.  They have an exercise class most mornings at 0900. I’d like to take part in that, but can’t seem to get myself moving with this cold to be in public by that time.  Yesterday, after we finished up school in the library in the club house,  I visited with a gentleman about the benefits and draw backs to homeschooling and how well (or not) homeschooled kids do as adults.  He shared some statistics I hadn’t known.  It was an insightful conversation.  I appreciate meeting these people from so many walks of life, their views and experiences are always interesting.  I also had a great homeschooling conversation with Wyatt’s mom.  She is using a curriculum we considered (ABEKA) and loves it.  I’m storing all this information for when we make curriculum decisions next year.

 

Right~ so, while I am getting whiny about sitting here not sailing, we are networking and making friends and learning from other sailors.  We have made acquaintance with 2 separate people because of the dogs, alone.  Weimaraners stand out and draw attention.  Something we have learned with the dogs on board, is that not all stowage areas are dog proof……  Hard lesson learned.

So~ until next time~

Slainte’

 

T-6

We are in the 1 week count down for leaving South Dakota for the boat for the next 6 months.  This last few days has been constant review of lists.  Provisioning list, general packing list, how bills will be paid, what bills there are, having the dogs taken care of to get into the Bahamas, having the camper ready to be left while we are gone and most importantly spending time with family we won’t see for awhile.  Of course, we are trying to do school in the midst and Christmas is around the corner.

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Last week we were in the Bahamas on a vacation that had been planned before we owned a boat or had a definite plan.  It was nice to relax without all the preparation we have been doing.  Mike has barely been home (in SD) as he has been working the ER in Pierre then travelling to the boat, otherwise.  He has been working like crazy and I was so happy he had to take a break- he needed it.

As for goodbyes, my very sweet Bible Study group had a bon voyage party for our last night of study.  We made sailboat tree ornaments and they blessed my with food for the boat. I had complained enough about the provisioning prospects.  I strongly dislike shopping and the thought of buying roughly 6 months of food in one trip was making me nauseated!  I took home a kitchen sized garbage bag (double bagged) of soup mixes, baking mixes, muffins and more to take!  About 50# of food!  This was an amazing send off!  Of course, we had delicious snacks, as well.  One of these ladies won’t be here when we return, so it was a two fold going away gathering.  I will miss these Sisters in Christ immensely!

 

 

Our Pastor also called us forward last Sunday the congregation to pray over us.  What a comfort to know so many people will be lifting us up!  We are truly blessed.

This next Sunday we will have a get together with Matthew’s birth family, who have all been like family to us.  We will have supper at a pizza joint that has an arcade and the kids can play while the adults visit.  We are going to miss these people like crazy!

We had an early Christmas celebration with my brother’s family this last Sunday.  They will be traveling to WA state this weekend, so we had to say farewell to them a little early.  I’ve always thought Jamie and I were very close, we have some sort of communication daily.  He has been away on deployments with the military, lived on the other side of the state, that sort of thing.  He now has a lovely wife and beautiful 1 year old baby as well as their older kids and it seems a little harder.

My dad, as mentioned in other posts, will be going with us.  The plan is he will spend our first 3 weeks with us on the boat, then fly home.  Our son, Sean will fly down and visit for a weekend, then the 2 of them will fly home.  Dad will be a help and I will delay a couple of goodbyes for a few weeks.  I really am not sure how the full time cruisers deal being away from home…. maybe they already were, so it’s not so jarring?

Mike has seen to Voyager having several updates.  I wanted him to do a separate post on all of this, but he only gave me his list.  Mike is a man of lists… He has lists for everything.  So, take my word for it, he has done a ton of work.  There has been a new kitchen sink installed, a big (for a boat) farmhouse style stainless one.  The faucet was already a newer one, so it’s overall gorgeous, now.  He has gone through countless hose clamps, fixed the windless, repaired the voltage regulator and alternator, flushed heat exchangers, wired the solar panels, built bimini gutters, among several dozen other things.  We should certainly be ready to throw off the dock lines!  There will be a stop a day or two out for a haul out to paint the bottom, but we should be underway shortly thereafter.

 

Matthew began taking guitar (for the 2nd time) about a month ago.  Last night he played his first recital.  He has done well and we look forward to his playing on the boat.  He still plays piano and has practiced that everyday at the house when we are doing school.  I love to hear him play and hope he will continue into adulthood.

 

Matthew will also be in charge of some posting as part of his writing assignments.  Look for these special blogs in the future.

I think I’ll go ahead and close out here.  There’s probably more news, but I’m short on attention span.  I would like to write more regularly as we go as I would like to see our growth while sailing.  I know there is so much to learn and comfort to be gained.  Bare with us 😉

Until next time~ Fair winds

Here are my precious people-