Category Archives: Florida

Ft Lauderdale to Miami

After a week in Ft. Lauderdale we were ready to leave. On Thursday morning, November 29, 2018, at 0647 we dropped the lines at the New River Docks. Since the railroad bridge goes down frequently and the two bascule bridges on the river we have to ask to be raised are closed between 0730 and 0900 on weekdays, we needed to plan carefully to get out to the ocean. We waited for the 0730 opening of the 17th Ave Causeway bridge and then were out on the ocean. 

Mark finally got the watermaker working so on the way to Miami we filled some gallon water jugs for drinking. We left Ft. Lauderdale with our three water tanks (120 gallons) full, so no need to make water for them yet.
It was a beautiful day with wind under 5 kts and following seas with a small swell. Proof that it was comfortable was that Sailor stayed under the helm seat through the Port Everglades Inlet and all the way to Miami. He has quickly remembered what goes on when we are sailing. He recognizes the difference between the ocean (which he usually doesn’t like), the ICW and the New River and when we leave the ocean through an inlet he quickly realizes that it is “safe” to go outside. However, this time he was fine staying outside through the Pt Everglades Inlet where amazingly we were the only boat in it and then again at Government Cut into Miami where once again we were the only boat. That was extremely unusual. The picture below is Sailor on the ocean just after we left Ft. Lauderdale. We stayed about a mile offshore the whole way following the coast south.
After entering Government Cut we motored to Crandon Park Marina in Biscayne Bay where we got fuel. We then continued across the Bay to the Dinner Key Mooring Field and picked up Ball 84 at 1347.

We came to Miami without our jib sail on and will be getting the parts for the furling mechanism in about two weeks. In the meantime we will enjoy walking around Coconut Grove which has a small downtown area with restaurants, stores, and coffee shops. Sailor is thrilled that we can walk to the best dog park we’ve ever seen, Blanche Park. There is no dirt, just AstroTurf, paved walkways, lots of benches to sit on in the shade, balls for the dogs and best of all the dog owners watch their dogs and the dogs are well behaved. Sailor goes there every morning and then goes ashore again for a shorter walk in the afternoon. It gets dark early in December so he doesn’t get a nighttime walk since we have quite a long dinghy ride in the dark to the dinghy dock at the marina. Below are some pictures of Sailor enjoying the area.

Sailor always has fun at  Blanche Park. There is a dog park and a separate fenced playground for children.
Sailor is standing by a fountain in the shopping/restaurant area of Coconut Grove in the photo below. The area that had a two story outdoor mall with a theater, restaurants like Cheesecake Factory, stores and a large Starbucks with a lot of outdoor seating is gone. A highrise building is going in its place. We will miss that area of Coconut Grove this time of year since it was always decorated beautifully for Christmas and had a nice place to sit outside.

Sailor is posing in this photo next to another sailor.
This is one of the many peacocks that can be seen around the Coconut Grove area. 

We can walk to two nice, although pricey, grocery stores, Milans (an IGA) and Fresh Market. Since all we need to buy is fresh produce, either one works for us. 

One advantage of being on a mooring ball is that you get to use the marina facilities. When we go to the marina office building we can use their free wifi, a nice laundry room, and great showers and bathrooms. While we can easily shower and wash clothes on the boat, we would have to also make water or bring it in five gallon jugs from the marina. We’ve decided we’ll take showers in the morning at the marina and wash our clothes there to save on water and power on the boat. 

Another way to save water is to give Sailor a bath using the free water at the marina dock. We have to use the Honda generator plugged directly into his blow dryer when we get back to the boat. If we don’t blow him dry he gets very matted. Also, to keep the boat clean, since his feet get very dirty walking on the city streets, we use a “paw plunger” to wash his feet after he gets out of the dinghy.


We love seeing dolphins but when we see manatees they are usually under water and not very visible. Also they aren’t as interesting to watch as dolphins since they usually just float around. Dinner Key Marina has a manatee named Puffy who has lived here for several years. In this photo Puffy is cleaning the dinghy dock so we were able to get a close up view.
After our jib furler arrives and is installed we will leave for Bimini or possibly Great Harbour Cay in the Berries at the next good weather window. We hope to be able to do this before Christmas and will then head straight to the Exumas and Georgetown. However, the most dangerous thing on a boat is a schedule so in reality we’ll get there when we get there. 

Continue reading

Stuart to Miami

After weeks of preparations, and a summer and fall of repairs and new purchases for the boat, this past week we had a weather window to get to Miami. Our wonderful dockmates helped us release the lines on Wednesday, November 9, and we were on our way…….until we reached the 65 ft Roosevelt Bridge next to our marina. The tide had been higher than normal, so we waited until mid tide and still barely made it under the bridge. Our mast is 63 ft (cut down from 68 ft so we could go under the ICW bridges) and the clearance sign said 64 ft, however we have instruments on top of the mast so we knew it would be close. For the first time our antenna dragged across the underside of a 65 ft bridge.

img_1458

After that we had an uneventful motor to Lake Worth. We rarely had to slow down for bridge openings. Some are on the hour and half hour and others are on demand, but we seemed to time it perfectly. We anchored near the Lake Worth Inlet and took Sailor for his first dinghy ride of the season over to Peanut Island.

dscf3116

dscf3109

dscf3112

The next morning we left the Lake Worth Inlet and turned south towards Ft. Lauderdale. The seas were calmer than predicted, in fact there weren’t even white caps. We made good time and went under the 2:00 opening of the 17th St Causeway Bridge. This was the roughest part of the cruise so far with a number of powerboats racing by us in the inlet. We have stayed at the New River City Marina many times and they know us so the dockmaster gave us a slip before the first bridge. There are numerous bridges on the New River and they are closed between 7:30 am and 9 am on weekdays, therefore we would need to leave before 7:30 or after 9 am to get under the bridges and to the inlet. We had two surprises on our way out to the ocean. First, turning towards the bridge from the New River, we suddenly ran over something and heard it banging under our port hull. Assuming is was a log or some other debris, Mark backed up but we couldn’t seem to lose it. Then a fire boat came by and they told us we had run over a buoy. Oops!! It was small, close to the water level and Mark didn’t notice it. I was inside at the time. Backing up further, the buoy popped up and we continued on to the bridge. At the 9:00 opening of the 17th St Causeway Bridge, we went under and turned into the Port Everglades Inlet. Oops again. A cruise ship was returning to her slip by the bridge and was taking up most of the channel. We had to turn around and pull over so she could get by us. Then we entered the inlet and for once no powerboats raced by to wake us. We turned south towards Miami and had a pleasant smooth motorsail again. 

img_1471

img_1476

Coming into the Miami Inlet is much easier than Port Everglades in Ft. Lauderdale. That is probably because Miami is a busy commercial harbor and numerous cruise ships are close by. We rarely see any boats speeding into the harbor. Our first stop after going under the Rickenbacker Causeway into Biscayne Bay was at Crandon Park Marina to get fuel. The older gentleman who has always been there in past years wasn’t working and the young man taking his place didn’t seem too enthusiastic. We had to call the marina to get him to come outside and catch our lines. While Mark was filling four jerry jugs with diesel after filling both tanks, the young man told us he was going back inside to eat his lunch and we could call when we were finished. When I went to the office to pay the bill, I handed him a tip and suddenly he seemed more interested in helping us with the lines as we left.

As we approached the Dinner Key Mooring Field in Biscayne Bay, we called and got a ball assignment. They said to grab ball 170 and gave us directions to where it was. We went up and down the rows and there was no ball 170, so  we called the office and the worker again gave us directions. After looking for 15 minutes we called again and this time someone from the mooring field was there and told us that ball had been “deactivated” and assigned us another one. 

We have spent three days here, walking around Coconut Grove and visiting the dog park, which is very nice. There is astroturf and recycled tires are used for the paths. Sailor has gotten a lot of exercise each day and should be ready now for beach runs.

Today my son Peter arrived and he’ll be joining us as we make our way through the Bahamas to Georgetown. 

I enjoyed my last frappuccino at Starbucks until we return to Florida at the end of May. Well maybe I’ll have one in Nassau. We made final visits to the local grocery stores, Milam’s Market and Fresh Market, mostly for fresh fruits and vegetables plus a few items we forgot to purchase during our provisioning shopping trips in Stuart. 

The forecast for the crossing on Monday is 1-3 ft seas and light and variable wind. If that turns out to be correct, we will have a pleasant motorsail to Bimini. There has been almost a week of mild weather but of course it can’t continue. A front will be passing through Florida and the Bahamas In a few days.  We will not be able to make it all the way to the Exumas without an extended stay somewhere. If we have two more good days we’ll get to Nassau. Otherwise we’ll stay in Bimini rather than going on to Chub Cay or Frazier’s Hog Cay in the Berries where there is nothing to do on shore. In fact, Chub Cay is a private island and we can’t even take Sailor to the beaches. 

To further complicate our cruise to the Bahamas, we have been getting email updates on a Tropical LO forming in the Caribbean. This could possibly develop into a hurricane over the next few weeks. Hurricane season isn’t finished until the end of November, but since they are rare in November, our insurance policy allows us to leave our marina in Stuart after November 1. We will watch this system closely and make sure we are in a safe place if it becomes a hurricane in the Bahamas.

Waiting for a Window in Miami

On December 10, 2015, we arrived in Miami and picked up a mooring ball at Dinner Key Marina and Mooring Field.  Expecting it to be a few days’ wait before a favorable weather window to leave for the Bahamas, we settled in. When it was time to take Sailor ashore that afternoon Mark climbed into the dinghy and oops……..”Something on your boat is broken….you just don’t know it yet.” Before we left Stuart, Mark transferred the outboard motor from our old dinghy to our new one. While doing so, the motor tipped and some fuel got into it. Mark assumed he could fix it when we got to Miami. He couldn’t. It always happens when we are ready to leave that something important breaks. We ordered a new outboard motor and missed the window to cross to Bimini.

Three weeks later as we listened to Chris Parker’s morning weather report we confirmed that we could finally leave Miami and cross to the Bahamas. Chris Parker is the marine weatherman we subscribe to who sends us daily email marine forecasts and broadcasts a morning weather report starting at 0630 on computers and tablets (for subscribers) and SSB radio for subscribers and anyone else who wants to listen. Since we subscribe, i.e. pay him money, we can ask a question about our particular route. We did that on December 30 and he replied that Friday, January 1, would be the best day to cross the Gulf Stream to Bimini. We knew the weather would be comfortable for crossing the Gulf Stream on January 1, having listened to his forecasts the previous days and weeks and read his emails in which he recommends crossing weather windows as well as conditions in all parts of the Bahamas. What we learned from him on December 30 was that we would have to stay in Bimini for at least a week. We generally like to stay a night at Bimini, go to the Berries the next day, then Nassau, and then to the Exumas which is our destination for most of our winter/spring cruise. We can make it to the Berries on Saturday, but Sunday’s weather is not good for getting to Nassau. In fact, a gale force weather system is arriving in the Bahamas on Sunday and Chris Parker advised no travel for anyone from Bimini to the Exumas until at least Friday, January 8. 

While in Miami we made good use of the time. Each day Sailor got to go to a fantastic dog park in Coconut Grove. It has astroturf instead of grass and the walkways are recycled tires, so even when it rains there is no mud. On the short walk to the park we would stop at Starbucks. Several blocks past the dog park there is a Home Depot and also a very nice IGA store named Milans. We did some additional provisioning there, mostly for fresh fruits and vegetables since our pantry shelves on Seas the Day have enough food to open a store of our own. We also did some shopping at Home Depot and of course West Marine, also within walking distance.

dogpark

Unfortunately for the entire three weeks we were on mooring ball 157, the weather was very windy which made the water in Key Biscayne where the mooring field is located extremely  rough. Some days the large water taxi shuttle couldn’t come out to pick up people who didn’t want to go ashore in their own dinghies. This was a problem for us because for the first week we were there we had no dinghy motor. Even on a calm day, it would be a long row into the marina but impossible with the waves crashing through the mooring field. We got accustomed to rocking and rolling on the boat. Frequently we heard loud noises as waves pounded the hulls, sounding almost like we had been hit by another boat or large floating object. Sailor was particularly upset and wanted to spend almost all of the time while on the boat in a bed with one of us next to him. We read numerous books on our Kindles while we took turns in bed with Sailor. There was not a break in these weather conditions the entire time we were there. Once we got our new dinghy motor, we stopped using the water taxi and got used to getting wet going ashore and coming back to the boat. It was easier than waiting for the taxi which runs on the hour and sometimes cancels pickups midday or starts late due to the wind and water  conditions. One time Mark and Sailor got caught ashore when that happened and had to pay someone from a kayak rental company at the marina to take them back to the boat.

IMG_0632

IMG_0664

All was going well while we waited for good crossing weather until three days before we were going to leave. I went into the freezer, which is full of six months of frozen food, and noticed that some of the food was thawing! A quick check confirmed that indeed the freezer temperature was going down. We transferred most of the food into several large insulated  cooler bags we use for shopping and also into a large cooler. We moved the meat into the small freezers in our two refrigerators and put some of the food in the refrigerator sections. Since this happened in the early afternoon, we were able to purchase large bags of ice for each cooler and put several bags in the freezer where we left some food thus keeping everything cold overnight. Our freezer is made by Vitrifrigo and luckily for us their headquarters are an hour away in Ft. Lauderdale. They gave us the phone numbers of three repairmen we could call and we were able to get someone out to the boat the next morning at 10 am. They didn’t even make us come to the dock, but rode out in our dinghy with their tools. The two repairmen who came checked everything and couldn’t find a problem until they discovered a great deal of dust where Mark hadn’t been able to reach when he cleaned it before we left Stuart. With their industrial strength blower, it all came out and the freezer temperature dropped immediately. Luckily cleaning people don’t charge $140 to come out to dust one item. For us, it was worth every penny to save many hundreds of dollars worth of frozen food.

With the freezer working, we hoped that was the end of the problems. On a boat, the repairs and maintenance are constant. Over the past few months we have replaced the dinghy, the outboard motor for the dinghy, the two trampolines on the foredeck, two of the four air conditioning units, the water maker pump, the two small seats at the front of the hulls on the foredeck (originally made of wood for some stupid reason and obviously were doomed to rot), the chart plotter, the radar unit, and numerous other small items. Because of these major expenses we didn’t get the one item we were determined to buy after our freezer went out for a day last winter in Georgetown, Bahamas, and we needed to store the frozen food. A neighbor in the Hole 2 mooring field loaned us their Engel 12V freezer which can also be used as a refrigerator with a different setting. That time the problem was caused because ice had formed over a thermostat and once thawed all was well. We could have used an Engel this time, but it remains in the Amazon.com cart where it is “saved for later.” Since it is about $900 it will be there for awhile.

While it seems like we might have had a miserable time in Miami, we didn’t. We never expect to get there and leave immediately and having rough water and repairs are all part of cruising. Below are two photos from the deck of Seas the Day. The first was on Christmas night with a full moon above Biscayne Bay. The second is our boat under one of many beautiful sunsets, taken by our boat buddies on the next mooring ball, Renaissance II. 

IMG_0670

12466289_1017699708250414_5170739595671647286_o

After one last trip to Milan’s for fresh food, another to the nearby Fresh Market for their homemade cookies, a visit to the marina laundry, a stop at the fuel dock to top off the tanks, a last time at Blanche Dog Park for Sailor, followed by a bath at a hose at the marina, and one last frappuccino, we settled down to get a good night’s sleep before leaving for Bimini on January 1, 2016, hoping the midnight fireworks wouldn’t be too loud. They weren’t and at daylight January 1, we released mooring ball 157 and headed east.

Cruising Season Eight Begins

After a few delays for weather we finally left Sunset Bay Marina on Tuesday, December 8, 2015. We had a great group helping us get off the dock and as much as we want to get to the Bahamas we will miss our friends in Stuart.

IMG_0529

FullSizeRender 13

We were worried about getting under the 65 ft. Roosevelt Bridge as we exited Sunset Bay because due to all the rain, tides are extremely high. Our mast is 63 ft plus the instruments at the top and we did get under without touching. The next day we weren’t so fortunate. 

IMG_0534

IMG_0536

We had a pleasant motor on the ICW to North Palm Beach and stayed at the North Palm Beach Marina. As usual lately, it rained part of the day. Still this was the best weather in awhile and there was a train of boats traveling down the ICW. We were in a group of eight each time we waited for a bridge opening but after we arrived in North Palm Beach we watched many more boats passing by to get into marinas or anchorages in the area and no doubt continue south the next day or perhaps head east to the Abaco Islands.

IMG_0543

IMG_0545

IMG_0564

The next morning, an hour after high tide, we approached the Riviera Beach Bridge and saw the board showed 62 1/2 ft clearance. We decided to wait as we watched the board. An hour and a half later the clearance was just a little over 63 ft and we decided to go……very slowly. As we started under the bridge our antenna started to drag on the bridge bottom. It has never done that before, but we continued and made it under with the antenna dragging the whole way. No pictures here as we were both watching the mast very closely.

We exited the Lake Worth Inlet to the ocean and turned south to Ft. Lauderdale. Even though there weren’t even white caps, the seas were rough and confused (coming from all directions). Sailor is a fair weather sailor and always lets me know he wants to get into the bed by going down the steps to the companionway and staring at me until I come.
IMG_0546

IMG_1806

We were very happy to arrive in Ft. Lauderdale and motor up the New River to tie up at the New River City Marina along the Riverwalk. We walked across the bridge and had dinner at Briney’s Irish Pub and got a good night’s sleep.IMG_2659

Thursday we left under the 17th Street Causeway bridge opening and again turned south to Miami. This was a pleasant, calm motorsail and we arrived on ball 157 at Dinner Key Mooring Field after filling up with fuel at Crandon Park Marina for the trip to the Bahamas.
IMG_0583

As mentioned in the previous post, cruising plans are written in sand. The next good weather window to go to Bimini is next week and that’s when we hoped to cross. That was the plan. However, Mark had to work on the dinghy motor because when he moved it to the new dinghy before we left Stuart it tipped and oil got in it. Despite his best efforts to repair it, the motor is dead and we have to buy a new one. Mark was able to find exactly what we wanted in the Miami area, but it has to be ordered and won’t get here until next Wednesday or Thursday. The good news is we found out before we left, although we could have purchased a good outboard motor in Nassau. Also, this is a nice place to stay. One year we spent most of the winter on a mooring ball at Dinner Key when we were waiting for the boat to be converted to twin diesels from an electric hybrid system. There is a Fresh Market a few blocks away, lots of great restaurants, the best dog park we’ve ever seen nearby, and the marina has been updated with a new three story building and all new facilities inside. Also, there is a water taxi shuttle that comes to pick us up and drop us off from 0800 to 1700 so we don’t need our dinghy while we are here unless we want to be off the boat after 5 pm. This is good for us because until next Thursday we can’t use our dinghy. We could row in but being on Biscayne Bay, the waters are rarely calm and there is almost always a brisk wind. 

The shopping and eating area of The Grove has many choices. We headed straight for this one. Once we are in the Bahamas, Nassau is our last chance to go to a Starbucks.

image

Below is a photo of Blanche Dog Park in Coconut Grove, a six block walk for us. The astroturf and recycled tire walkways make this the perfect dog park because even though it rained the morning this picture was taken, no dogs got muddy!

dogpark

image

Chris Parker, the marine weatherman whose forecasts we subscribe to, says next Tuesday and possibly Wednesday are good days to cross to the Bahamas and there might be one more opportunity before Christmas on December 24. I suspect we’ll be celebrating Christmas in Miami. Nothing new here. No matter how early we start, we have never made it to the Bahamas before New Years’ Eve. Weather and boat repairs always hamper our plans. One year we were almost to Bimini and our previous hybrid propulsion  system failed. We had to be towed back to Ft. Lauderdale and we made a successful run to Bimini a few weeks later. We’ve talked to a number of other cruisers who are here at Dinner Key waiting to go someplace. Almost every person has either said they aren’t quite sure where they are going or not quite sure when.  We know there are many people who would like to have this “problem” and we realize how blessed we are.

Waiting for Weather in Miami

Monday, as soon as the riggers left, we left Ft. Lauderdale and turned south towards Miami. We tried a new anchorage this year in a small lake near South Beach named Sunset Lake. It is a beautiful area, but a few years ago one of the home owners did not like boats anchored in front of their house. To keep the boats away, they purchased about 20+ small sailboats and anchored them directly in front of their house, blocking regular boats from coming near them. The little boats even have anchor lights. The photo is a little blurry because I had to zoom in from a distance.

image

We spent Christmas Eve and Day on Sunset Lake.  Fresh Market was nearby and we shopped for food with friends Cathie and Tom on Interlude. We enjoyed a delicious but easy meal. It was only a few blocks to the shopping area, and naturally there were Starbucks on every corner so I got my last frappuccino before we left Florida. Below are several Christmas photos. Our one year old Christmas cactus bloomed in spite of us not following the watering and light instructions.

imageimageWe had planned on leaving for Bimini on Sunday, motoring over to get fuel and stage the boats near the channel by No Name Harbor on Saturday, but when we woke up Saturday morning the weather seemed perfect for a crossing. The winds were SE at 15 kts. We would be motoring into the wind and probably couldn’t sail, but the seas would be calm. We stopped to get fuel and then at 1050 entered the channel to leave Miami. Normally we leave at daybreak, so we figured we would be arriving in Bimini in the dark. As we went past the Miami skyline, Sailor checked out the buildings and probably hoped for calm seas.

image

Peanut Island on Memorial Day Weekend

We arrived in Lake Worth from Bimini on the Saturday of Memorial Day Weekend and were not looking forward to the speeding boaters in the ICW on one side of Lake Worth and in the channel next to the anchorage on the other side. However being able to go to nearby Peanut Island is worth the time spent in the rocking anchorage. The island is a fantastic park with a paved walkway that winds through palm trees and other vegetation.  It is a very popular area for the locals to come to on weekends and holidays, with Memorial Day Weekend being particularly crowded. Many visitors come by small boats and water taxis bring people to the island from Riviera Beach or Palm Beach. There is a tent campsite and numerous covered picnic areas as well as areas to swim and snorkel.

Palm Beach is home to large estates with ocean beaches on the east side and Lake Worth on the west side. The Lake Worth inlet is a popular one for cruisers to leave from to go to the Bahamas  and to return to at the end of their trip. Peanut Island is located just inside the inlet.  The western shore of Lake Worth near the anchorage we are in is mostly industrial.

After anchoring near the inlet, we took the dinghy to Peanut Island and on the way passed a large wooden vessel at a dock in front of one of the houses where a party was taking place. A closer look revealed she was the yacht used by five presidents.  John Fitzgerald Kennedy spent the Christmas and Easter holidays on this yacht and in his Palm Beach home. During the summer months she  was docked in Cape Cod. Each president could change the name of the yacht and Kennedy christened her Honey Fitz, after his maternal grandfather Boston mayor John Francis Fitzgerald, whose nickname was Honey Fitz. The yacht is now privately owned and can be chartered, renting for $5000 for four hours.  She is docked at a marina in West Palm Beach, but retains her home port as Washington DC.  There is a presidential seal on the smokestack and the Honey Fitz is decorated with memorabilia from the five presidents who used the yacht. It’s worth a Google search to find out more about her fascinating history.

imageThe Kennedy family had a vacation home in Palm Beach purchased by JFK’s father in 1933. During the 1960’s it became the winter White House. A bunker was built on Peanut Island as a fallout shelter for Kennedy shortly before the Cuban Missile Crisis. The Kennedy bunker is now open for public tours. When we were in the Bahamas, we met a couple who live on Lake Worth next to the anchorage we are presently in and were cruising in the Bahamas in their yacht.  They told us about the bunker and the local rumor that it was used by Kennedy one time, when he took Marilyn Monroe there! Three feral cats live on Peanut Island now and are named Jack, Jackie, and Marilyn.

In the early 2000’s Peanut Island underwent a massive construction project which converted it to the beautiful park it is today.  It was completed in 2005 and the photos below describe the changes.  (If you click on the photos of the posters, they should become large enough to read. Poster were under glass, so it was difficult to get a clear photo.)

imageimage

Here are more pictures of our visit to Peanut Island.

Visitors line up on the dock to take water taxis back to Palm Beach or Riviera Beach. The docks are free to use during the daytime and small boats can also anchor near the shore or pull up on to the beaches, except the ones designated as swimming areas. The wide walkways and bridges run along the shore and weave through the interior of the small island.

image

image

image

image

image

image

This is the bunker built for President John F. Kennedy. The entrance is through a small tunnel.

image

image

I suspect that reservations for this tent campground are made at least a year in advance for Memorial Day Weekend. It was full all weekend, but completely empty by Monday afternoon.

imageThere are numerous places to snorkel around the island. During the construction process, reefs  were added where many varieties of fish can be seen in the crystal clear water.

image

Peanut Island is very dog friendly. When we stopped here on our way to the Bahamas in early March, Sailor was afraid to go in the water by the docks. He had never been swimming and ran into the water without realizing it was wet! Realizing his mistake, he raced to get back to solid land.  This time, he enthusiastically fetched his wubba. He learned to love the water during his three months playing on many beaches in the Bahamas.

image

This is one of the covered picnic areas which are placed throughout the park.

imageThe pond where Sailor swam and the tiki hut picnic area were empty every time we went to Peanut Island. There are several other beaches on the lake shore of the island which have lifeguard towers  and were crowded with swimmers.

image

While Sailor was in the water, a kayaker paddled by with his dog on the front.  They noticed each other but wisely did not try to get together.

image

After walking and swimming, it was time to rest on a bench and watch the busy boat traffic go by, including the Bahamas Celebration Cruise Ship which was leaving the Lake Worth Inlet for a two night cruise to the Bahamas.

image

image

We are staying in Lake Worth through Tuesday, when we will raise our anchor and go the short distance across the lake to Cracker Boy Boatyard where Nance and Underwood Riggers will remove our sails, unstep the  mast, and bring them to Ft. Lauderdale to store until we have them put back on again at the end of hurricane season in November.   On Wednesday we will take the final leg of our 2014 cruise back to Sunset Bay Marina in Stuart, FL.

We’re Blue But Happy and Ready to Leave

The numerous delays we’ve had have been annoying, but Mark has managed to finish up lots of small projects.  Yesterday he installed LED lights in the cockpit which we can switch from white to blue. They give a nice ambiance to the sitting area and if we need more light we can lower the hanging lamp to see what we are doing on the table, such as playing Mexican Train.  In this photo the hanging lamp is on a hook on the bimini where we keep it when we are sailing or the boat is rocking too much. We have two recessed lights in the roof and are going to add two more. One will go directly over the grill and the other will be centered between the two posts.

image

Yesterday, the Spectra service rep came and repaired our watermater.  We needed a new pump and had paid for it to be shipped overnight from California.  Mark could have installed it, but was unable to order it himself. Now we are ready to go and can leave during the next good weather window, which should be Monday or Tuesday.

image

Today we plan to do some last minute provisioning and celebrate by going out to lunch at one of the many restaurants in Coconut Grove.  Most have outside seating which means we can take Sailor with us.  We don’t quite trust him alone on the boat while we are out in the water.  He stayed on the deck in Stuart at the dock for hours at a time when we were gone and never tried to get off the boat.  However, he has discovered the thrill of dinghy rides and just might decide to dive in and swim after us if we leave without him.  He doesn’t like to swim yet, but being with us in the dinghy might outweigh that fear until he is a little older. As you can see below, he is getting fairly bold.  I suppose soon he’ll be using this window as a door since he can already get halfway in.

image

The sunsets are usually lovely in Miami, and last night’s was typical.

image

This morning dozens of sailboats are going out the channel onto Biscayne Bay for races.  Sailor finds this interesting but prefers to view it from the comfort of his own deck.

image

Cruising Plans Written in Sand

I spent the last three weeks in Maryland and California and flew back to Florida four days ago assuming we would be able to leave for the Bahamas in a day or two.  I had done all of my preparations before I left to be with Peter for his surgery and recovery.  Mark worked hard while I was gone and finished almost all of his projects.  However, two major problems are now holding up our departure.  First, on the way to the airport on January 15, we were rear-ended in rush hour traffic on I95, one exit before the West Palm Beach Airport.  It took several weeks to get the car owner’s insurance company to start the repairs on our car.  We should get it back early this week.  Second, we are waiting for repairs to be made to our radar and anemometer, both of which were damaged when the mast was taken down.  We have been waiting since the mast was put back on in November to get the repairs done, and now we are getting angry.  Hopefully we’ll get these parts repaired in a few days and be on our way by the end of the week.

The time I got to spend with my son Peter was wonderful. The surgery successfully removed a tumor at the bottom of his spine and then we flew to California for two weeks.  Peter was my tour guide every day as we visited beach towns, tourist destinations like Hearst Castle and Sequoia National Park, a Monarch Butterfly Park, wine tastings, Farmers’ Markets, and many walks on the dunes and various beaches.  Rather than put entries about the visit on this blog, I posted pictures on my Facebook page, the link for which is on the top right hand side of this website and also here. Flying into West Palm Beach last week, I caught this view outside the window as I was watching the sunrise above the clouds.  It reminded me that in a short time we would be passing large container ships like this on the ocean as we cross from Miami to Bimini.

IMG_1320

Today, Mark dived under the boat to clean the props.  The St. Lucie River is so filthy from runoff in Lake Okeechobee that he couldn’t see more than five or six inches in front of him.  He’ll finish cleaning the bottom when we get into cleaner water. Mark uses a Brownie’s Yacht Diver Electric System to allow him to breathe air while cleaning the boat bottom or for any other reason we might need to dive under the boat.

IMG_0235

One of our recent unplanned purchases (there have been many) was a new XM Radio for the boat.  We have always had an XM radio with a small speaker unit on the boat but it stopped working this fall so we bought a new one. We have speakers in the salon and outside in the cockpit, but had never tried to connect the XM radio to it.  We did that today and now can use the indoor and/or outdoor speakers in the cockpit to play XM stations.  Right now we are listening to a pleasant “spa” station which shouldn’t annoy our dock neighbors.

I was afraid that Sailor might not remember me when I got back.  At first he seemed confused but happily took the new toy I brought him.  Hopefully we will get to leave Sunset Bay Marina this week to begin our next cruise to the Bahamas and Sailor can become a real boat dog.

IMG_0225

Sailor’s First Beach Walk

Mark and I grew up in Duluth, Minnesota and their forecast for the next two weeks is snow with lows in the 20’s. It appears they might get an early winter this year. Seasons in Florida are changing too.  When we first moved aboard the boat five years ago we were getting a car to rent and were picked up by a Hertz employee.  While talking to him about the weather he informed us that, “There are two seasons in Florida……hot and damn hot.”  We are now entering the “hot” season, with “damn hot” hopefully almost over. Today seemed like a good day to take Sailor for his first beach walk. Unlike Ft. Lauderdale and Miami, almost all the beaches in this part of Florida allow dogs and there are a number of designated “dog beaches” where they can go off leash.

Stuart Beach is just six miles from the marina. After we parked and made our way towards the water, Sailor seemed quite interested.  He had never walked in sand before and on the wide beach that’s about all he saw at first.  He was straining, obviously wanting to run across the sand, but we had no intention of removing his leash.

IMG_3470

For his first ocean beach experience, we probably should have gone to nearby Bathtub Beach, where there is a reef that keeps the waves off shore. Unfortunately, today the waves on Stuart Beach were a bit high and the tide was coming in.  We connected a long training leash to his harness and waited to see his reaction.  Sailor is always curious about new things and he stood at the edge of the water looking out at the ocean, not knowing that the edge would soon change.

IMG_3471

And then it did and he wasn’t quite so curious anymore. As the water came towards him, Sailor ran backwards while Mark let out some of the leash.

IMG_3472

Not wanting to scare him, we walked along the beach for awhile staying away from the water’s edge.  Eventually, two off leash dogs came by and Sailor got curious again. They played for a little while and then the dogs continued their walk.

IMG_3490

Daisy’s first beach experience was along the coast of Lake Superior and those waves scared her.  Eventually, she learned to love walking on the beach and I’m sure Sailor will too.  He has a lot of them in his future.

Checking Off The “To Do” List

On a boat, the work never ends.  Luckily, most of the time when we are at the marina during hurricane season, the projects are things we want to do.  When we are cruising, usually Mark spends most of his time fixing something that breaks. We have been at Sunset Bay for four months, with two more to go.  The biggest projects are finished, but the “to do” list is still long.  We have wanted to get a new dodger (aka windshield) since we bought the boat five years ago.  The one that came from Lagoon with the boat was, to put it mildly, a piece of junk.  After a short time, it was impossible to see out of it, unless Mark had just polished the windows.  By the time we replaced it, it was moldy and falling apart.  The new one was made by G & G Sails and Canvas, which is located a few miles from us in Stuart.  The front windows are 80 ml acrylic (Ez2cy) and they are glued into the frame, rather than sewed into it.  The side ones are a coated vinyl called Strataglas.  The nice thing about acrylic is they can be buffed if they get scratched. They are also as clear as glass. We tried to find someone who would install glass because we lusted for windshield wipers, like powerboats and a few sailboats have, but in the end we are very happy with the results.

IMG_3354

At the top of our list was to purchase a wind generator.  When Seas the Day was a hybrid, we had plenty of power from the many chargers and batteries, but once we got rid of all of that, we needed other sources for when we aren’t plugged into shore power.  Last year, we installed five solar panels on the bimini.  They worked great in the spring and summer, but in the fall and winter as the days shortened and the sun was lower in the sky, we got less and less charge from them.  However, in the winter there is a lot of wind in the Bahamas, so we decided to add a wind generator to keep the charge up overnight.  We got an Eclectic D400,  which is the quietest generator with the highest output at the lowest wind velocities. We won’t be able to try it until we unplug from shore power in December and head to the Bahamas.  Mark installed it, as he has done with almost everything we have added to the boat.  If it doesn’t give us quite enough charge at night and cloudy days, then we’ll add another one next year.

IMG_3357