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’