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’

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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’

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-

 

 

 

Life as We Know It

 

I have come to realize that although I am not an opponent of change, I am not a proponent of going through the transition.   My current wish would be to jump to January and be living on the boat full-time or go back to, say, March and be living full time in our (Sean’s) house, with kids running all over the place.  Overall I haven’t minded the 35 foot 5th wheel camper.  I have loved what time we have had on the boat so far.   As we get closer to our move time, and the weather is turning colder and the holidays approach, I find myself getting more apprehensive about everything.  There are a few challenges of living in a camper when it’s cold.  Frozen pipes and drains to name the most obvious.  Homeschooling takes up more room that I was prepared for.  It’s also more time-consuming and requires more organization and steadfastness than I thought.  I truly believe this will become easier as we endure the initial growing pains.

Last week, we were on Voyager and Matthew was in his second week of being sick.  Matthew has not been sick before, beyond a couple of fevers that lasted maybe 24 hours.  He had never been on an antibiotic before.  Strep throat was diagnosed the week before, by Mike.  He had picked up some antibiotics for Matthew and M had been taking them.  His fever had come down, he seemed to be feeling mostly better by the time we got to Brunswick, other than extreme fatigue.  Then Monday night he began itching.  There were “no seeums” thick around the boat and we thought he was just scratching do to them.  By Tuesday morning it was apparent that this was not due to insects.  He was covered head to toe in a hivey, red, blanching rash that itched like crazy.  His face was also swollen, eyes, cheeks and most alarmingly, his lips and mouth.  We kept a very close eye on him, dosed him with Benedryl and stopped the amoxicillin.  Because of the fatigue that continued and his raspy voice we questioned whether he might also have a virus; mono maybe.  Mike explained, when a body is so amped up fighting a virus, then an antibiotic is introduced, the body can sometimes fight the medication as well and you get the rash and allergy type symptoms.  Regardless, he will not be taking Amoxicillin again.  So, now, into our 3rd week, Matthew still has a light rash and is still spending an inordinate amount of time sleeping.  Yesterday, before we got through with school, he begged for a nap and slept 3 hours.  This meant we were wrapping up math and science at supper time.

Right.  Last week on Voyager we were attempting to get several projects knocked off the list.  Our “project time” was somewhat compromised due to interrupted attempts at school and checking on Matthew.  We did get quite a bit accomplished, but Mike opted to fly back to her yesterday and get some more done.  So, we were up at 0330 getting him to his flight.

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The ever being edited to-do list….

Matthew and I are spending time in Sean’s house for school, so we can spread out and have access to water.  I used to go to the gym in the mornings when I took him to school.  I’m at a loss now as to when I should go.  CrossFit Kids is on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons, so that seems like a good time for me, but what about the rest of the week? Why is this such a hard thing to  accomplish?  Since I am not coordinating trips to town, I seem to be at a loss as when to go.  This is so strange to me.

Since “retiring” (this still doesn’t seem like a word that should apply to me) I have been trying to make a conscious effort to see my friends and make them a priority.  I’ve succeeded with some friends more than others.  As farewell time gets closer I’m getting more emotional about it.  Mike and I have set ourselves apart, isolated ourselves, even.  We have spent so much time together, working, travelling, etc that we haven’t left a lot of room for others for quite a while.  I recently completed a Bible Study on friendship (We Saved You a Seat by Lisa Jo Baker) that opened my eyes to several aspects of friendship I hadn’t thought of.  I’m trying to implement what I learned and be a better friend.  I also know that “time” is my love language and what I value from others.  This is ironic as it’s also what I have withheld to those closest to me, I believe.

I can’t really think about the upcoming 6 months without my family nearby.  My dad will leave with us, so that will help.  We have had a friends family say they will be near Brunswick when we are just getting there and we may be able to meet up with them.  This will make me so incredibly happy if it works out.  I hope that our kids and other family are able to visit, also.  I have visions of us reserving our condo at Harborside in the early spring and our guests staying there if they aren’t comfortable on the boat.  Since we are mobile, we could meet almost anywhere within reason.  Think about it- is a trip to the Caribbean in your future??

We are 5 months into retirement and although we have been exceedingly busy, I still haven’t found my “purpose”.  I guess homeschooling is the major purpose, now.  I’m hoping that once on the boat, it all comes together.  I have enjoyed having my quiet time, although interrupted, most days.  I’ve been creative and completed a few artsy projects.  I have been able to take a girl trip (Mom and Lynn and I visiting Scottsdale and seeing writer Diana Gabaldon) which was so much fun.  Last week alone I read 5 books!  3 of them on Audible.  Audible is amazing, it’s definitely one of my all time favorite things.

Diana Gabaldon, mentioned above, wrote the book Voyager for which our boat is named.  This is the 3rd of the “big books” in the Outlander series.  At the end of the book, the main characters are shipwrecked and wash up on a beach in Georgia.  This year is also the 25th anniversary of the release of Voyager.  Since we found our Voyager in Georgia and it is an apt name for a boat, we went with it.

Well, this has been a scattering of thoughts for a blog post…. if you’ve stuck with it, thank you.  As we mentioned from the beginning our blog is a journal of events for us to reflect on as much as anything.  If anyone is entertained by it or interested in any way, we are appreciative.  We realize this is an alternate life and not everyone understands why we are doing it.  Sometimes I don’t know why we are doing it.  That’s ok.  The world needs us all, different lifestyles, loves and passions.

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Megan and Lucian- because they are adorable. Luc had just trick or treated at a house blasting scary noises. He remained like this the rest of the evening.

Slainte’

Let your eyes look straight ahead, fix your gaze directly before you.

Proverbs 4:25