Tag Archives: Lake Worth

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.

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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.

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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. 

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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.

Preparing for Bahamas Cruising Season 5

Our usual cruising schedule is to leave Stuart after Thanksgiving, head south to Miami stopping in Lake Worth and Ft. Lauderdale, and wait at Dinner Key Mooring Field to cross the Atlantic to Bimini. Invariably we get stuck in Miami waiting for weeks to cross with favorable weather conditions and have never made it to the Bahamas before January 1. This year we are leaving in November and hope to have better results.

Once we are back in Stuart at the dock in June, we are no longer spending our days sailing, moving from island to island, anchoring, enjoying the beaches of the Bahamas and connecting with cruiser friends old and new. Very quickly we get back into our land mode and the boat becomes a floating condo tied to a dock. No longer do we have to depend on our diesel Onan Generator, gas Honda Generator, solar panels, and wind generator for power. Since we are plugged into shore power at the dock, we can once again freely use the microwave/convection oven, blow dryer, curling iron, toaster, coffee grinder, air conditioner, have unlimited TV watching, and use everything else that has to be plugged in without using up the power stored in the batteries. We could and sometimes do use all of these appliances while cruising, but the generator must be running for anything that creates heat. We don’t have to make reverse osmosis water while at the dock, and have unlimited city water to fill our tanks with a hose, wash the boat, take longer showers and give Sailor much needed baths. We have fast free wifi at our marina so we don’t have to pay for the more expensive data in the Bahamas or use much of our Sprint and AT&T data. A pumpout boat comes to us once a week to empty the holding tanks for free. In Georgetown we pay between $20 and $30 per pumpout and that is the only place we visit that has a pumpout boat. We get our car out of storage and have all the stores and shopping we need within a few miles of the marina rather than going to mostly small stores with limited and expensive food items in the Bahamas. Ordering by mail becomes possible again and our Amazon Prime purchases start arriving at the marina before we do. We can have items sent to the Bahamas, but shipping is very expensive and we pay a high customs fee based on the cost of the item. Yoga studio classes and water aerobics are back on my schedule, and instead of walking Sailor on sandy beaches, Mark and Sailor are strolling on the streets and in nearby parks in Stuart. Mark makes the dreaded “to do list” but doesn’t feel rushed to complete it quickly. Our marina is 10 minutes from the ocean so Sailor still gets to visit beaches, just not twice a day, every day. He has lots of Goldendoodle friends in the area and we get together occasionally for beach romps. Luckily, Stuart is a very dog friendly area.

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We quickly fall into new patterns and forget about boat chores for awhile. However, soon the lists start to be checked off and there are always repairs to make and new things to buy. This year our radar unit had to be replaced, new shower and sink faucets were purchased and installed, as wells as zincs, a gear box for the anchor windlass, and 200 feet of new anchor chain. Our Honda generator needed to be repaired, we had to buy a new jib sail, and the list went on. However, just as Mark would start on a new project, something else had to be fixed, like a bilge pump suddenly wasn’t working so that went to the top of the list. Parts are much easier to get here by mail or in stores, so we try to bring extras of everything we use or might need to repair along the way. At the top of this list are parts for the watermaker since almost every year some part fails.

When Mark replaced the radar unit, he first went up to take the old one down, lowered it in a bag to me and then came down. After resting, he went up again to install the new one which I raised in a bag to him. Thankfully when he came down and turned the radar on at the nav station instrument panel it worked! He went up in a bosun’s chair, with two lines tied to it. I brought him up using an electric winch, first raising one line, locking it, and then raising the other, reversing the process on the way down. The winch is controlled by foot pedals so it takes no strength on my part. We went very slowly and it’s as safe as we can make it, but very tiring for Mark to keep his legs wrapped around the mast. It’s not a job he enjoys.
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One of the greatest things about cruising is the friends we have made. We always make it a point to meet sailors on other Lagoon 420’s and share new items to buy or ways to improve things on the boat. We have gotten many suggestions from friends Karen and Matt on SV Where 2, including the Amazon link for wonderful new shower heads and sink faucets. 

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We got a nice break from the Florida summer heat when we drove to Duluth, Minnesota in July for a class reunion. Actually our classmates turn 70 this year so it was a birthday party. Taking advantage of the fact that a group of us who have been close friends since elementary school were all there, we took a road trip up the north shore of Lake Superior and spent several days together in Grand Marais, Minnesota. We had a fantastic time sharing memories and making new ones. There is nothing more special regarding friendships, in my opinion, than the ones from childhood. I would say we are all looking pretty good as we reach 70 years old. The first photo was taken in Grand Marais and the second at one friend’s house in Duluth. The eight of us have stayed in constant contact for over 50 years, first with snail mail “chain” letters where we each added our letter to the rest and sent the fat envelope on to the next person who replaced her letter with a new one, and now we communicate via email, regularly updating the group with our latest news. This was the first time in many years we were all together in one place.

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While in Duluth we stayed at a Sheraton Hotel with a gorgeous view of Lake Superior. They allow, and in fact welcome, dogs up to 80 pounds. I could stare for hours out at the lake watching the big ships come through the canal in the the harbor and smaller boats sailing and motoring near shore. We were able to stroll along the Lakewalk and stop at the beautiful parks along the way, including the Rose Garden pictured below. Duluth has changed a great deal since we left it in the late 60’s and has become a popular tourist destination. The lake views were all from our hotel room.

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The months ticked by and soon it was September and then October. As we were going along crossing things off our lists, Hurricane Matthew formed. Until the day he arrived in southeast Florida, we were predicted to be exactly where he would make landfall with CAT 3 or higher winds and a storm surge, in the so called “cone of uncertainty.” At the last minute Matthew turned slightly east and we only got tropical storm force wind. We had no damage from the hurricane, however while putting the dodger (aka windshield) back on after the storm passed, the wind caught one panel and it fell to the deck and cracked. Fortunately we had the dodger made here in Stuart, so they were able to quickly replace that one panel for a mere $600.

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As the hurricane approached Florida, days and days of preparations began, including moving the boat to a more protected floating dock at the marina, removing everything from the deck and putting it inside the boat (including sails and two kayaks), and adding additional lines from the boat to the dock as well as more fenders to protect us from banging on the dock. The day before the hurricane hit Florida, we left the marina and stayed with friends Marilyn and Rich, who live nearby in Port St. Lucie. We were very grateful for their hospitality. Their Goldendoodle Tater and Sailor, who share the same father, had fun playing together and we all slept through the hurricane.

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We then began the task of putting everything back where it was previously kept. One advantage, however, was it became an opportunity to give everything on the outside a good washing. All around the marina, most boats were being cleaned, not from the hurricane effects, but due to the relative ease of cleaning when there was nothing that had to be moved. 

As we were taking down the jib for the hurricane, we discovered it needed a few repairs and brought it to Mack Sails in Stuart. Surprise, surprise, we were told it was not worth repairing and we needed to buy a new one, which we did after the hurricane passed. In the photo below, Mark is attaching the new sail.

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As soon as everything was put back, it was time to start preparing to leave. A big part of that is provisioning for a seven month cruise. Spreadsheets are made after determining what we need. For several weeks, I went shopping almost daily, bringing back bags full of provisions and then storing them. It’s not just food that has to be purchased and stored. We also buy paper products, toiletry items, cleaning supplies, office supplies and of course replacements for the many systems on the boat.  If we use it, we buy plenty to take with us.  Many items can be bought on Amazon or by mail order. Naturally this year I made sure I had plenty of hot chocolate and Sailor had abundant treats since we ran out of both of these last year. We get a new courtesy flag for the Bahamas every year, and we also had to get new paper charts for the Bahamas since ours were from 2008 and several revisions have been made since then. Of course we have a chart plotter with digital charts for the areas we travel in, but the Explorer Charts for the Bahamas are not available for our navigation system in digital format. Courtesy flags are not well made and rarely last a season so we have started buying two of the “premium” courtesy flags and are then able to have a flag flying for six months that isn’t shredded by the wind. We always bring an extra US flag too so we can replace it if it tears. This summer we bought an inflatable stand-up paddle board (iSUP) to add to our two kayaks for water exploring.  Sailor will now enjoy going with us on the iSUP. OK, I know the photo is sideways, but I can’t rotate it and we have deflated the board for storage so until we are in the water, this is the only one I have. Note the “pup deck” at the front for Sailor’s traction.

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We have three queen size bed cabins and one is devoted to food storage when we cruise. Everything is placed in plastic containers, labeled and stacked. Catamarans are known for their storage, so cabinets are full as are the storage areas under the salon couch and bench. The bookshelves Mark built in the office became a pantry after we bought Kindles and gave away most of our books. We have deep storage lockers on the foredeck and under beds there is more space for storage. Under one bed we have four large bags of dog food, many cases of Coke for Mark and other miscellaneous items. Of course the freezer is full as are our two refrigerators, one in the cockpit and one in the galley. Before we leave Miami, we’ll get fresh fruit and vegetables and again when we stop in Nassau we’ll restock what we need at a fantastic, but expensive, Fresh Food Market. The next good grocery store we will be near is when we reach Georgetown. The grocery stores in the small islands of the Exumas are usually a few shelves in someone’s house. They are stocked once a week when the supply boat arrives from Nassau with items from the States. 

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The storage locker below is one of several on the foredeck. It is just under five feet deep and is full of paper products which are ridiculously expensive in the Bahamas. Yes, we probably buy more than we need and it does add a lot of weight to the boat. Just today someone watched me bringing supplies aboard and said, “They do have groceries in the Bahamas you know.” Yes, I know that, but what if I want a certain brand of peanut butter and don’t want to pay twice the price I got it for at Sam’s, Walmart, or Target or it isn’t even available where there is limited stock? What if I need rechargeable batteries and can’t find them in the Bahamas? What if I use a certain brand of face lotion and I can’t get it there? A one gallon container of Rotella engine oil is $12.97 at Walmart and $53 at a NAPA store in Georgetown. However, in most cases it’s really not about money. It’s about choice, and we choose to eat and use the brands we like. The fact that we save money is an added benefit. The fact that we have a boat with a lot of storage available makes it possible.

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Another thing we have to provision for is our meds. Mark takes several prescriptions and I am on thyroid medication. Luckily, I can buy a three month supply, without using insurance, for $10 at Walmart and they have no problem if I get six months for $20 or even a year at a time, as long as it is on the prescription. Mark, on the other hand, has a huge problem getting what the insurance companies call a “three month vacation waiver.” It’s fine with the doctor and OK with the pharmacy but it is pulling teeth to get the insurance approval. In the end, after weeks of sending in forms, numerous phone calls, and much waiting, he gets them. This year it was particularly difficult. It’s hard to explain to someone that you don’t have a cruise ship itinerary to send them, or a receipt for a tour in Europe to prove you are going to be out of the country. They don’t understand that we can’t go to a pharmacy when we cruise, although there is one in Georgetown and also in Spanish Wells. One year I ran out of thyroid medication and purchased some at the pharmacy in Spanish Wells. I recall it was quite a bit more expensive, although that may not be true in all cases. After calling every day for over a week, and spending four hours on the phone last Friday, today Mark finally got a call saying his Medicare provider had approved it. That’s fine, but we had actually planned on leaving yesterday and this afternoon our car is going into storage. So at 2:30 today he picked up the last of his meds and now has a seven month supply. 

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As we do all of this, we are also watching the weather. We subscribe to marine weatherman Chris Parker and get daily email updates on sea conditions in the US and Bahamas. We can also listen to his morning weather reports for the US, the Bahamas, and the Caribbean, broadcast on SSB and webcast. Our route when we leave takes us from Stuart to Lake Worth on the ICW. Then we have two days on the ocean, first to Ft. Lauderdale and then on to Miami. This means we have to wait for two days where the ocean is fairly calm and wind is in a favorable direction for sailing or at least not on the nose. Once we arrive in Miami the wait begins again for “crossing weather.” Chris Parker has reliable stats and recommendations for crossing the Gulf Stream to the Bahamas. It is about 50 miles on the ocean from Miami to Bimini where we check into the Bahamas. The route is complicated by passing through the Gulf Stream where seas can be huge if the wind is from the north and meets the Gulf Stream which is a strong current flowing north up the US East Coast. There are many weather sites we can check but invariably our best source is Chris Parker’s crossing forecast. It usually takes us about eight hours of motorsailing to get from Miami to Bimini.

We originally “planned” to leave Stuart on November 3. Insurance requires us to stay here until November 1. However, last week passed with no weather window to leave. We are hoping to head south on Wednesday, November 9. Thursday and Friday are predicted to have relatively calm seas and we won’t be headed into the wind. The wind is from the north but it is “light and variable” by the end of the week. Inclement conditions are returning over the weekend when a front passes through Florida, so we will be in Miami for at least a few days, possibly more. Last year we spent three weeks in Miami on a mooring ball waiting to cross. As they say, “Cruising plans are written in sand at high tide.” Another one is, “The most dangerous thing on a boat is a schedule.” 

To follow our cruising route, there is a link in the menu at the top of our website page. It is under “Location” and called  “Spot Tracking.” Whenever we are moving it is turned on, updating our position every ten minutes. I tend to post photos and updates more often to my Facebook page than to this website and there is a link to that at the top of the right column on the Seas the Day website. 

We plan to leave Sunset Bay midmorning on Wednesday (tomorrow) and take the ICW to Lake Worth/Palm Beach. It’s an easy motor with quite a few bridges that have to open for us, but all timed well. We have reservations at a marina in Ft. Lauderdale for Thursday and Friday night, in case we want to wait until Saturday to go on to Miami. 

Finally, we miss many things about living in the US when we are gone. In particular, there is one thing I can’t provision for and can’t purchase anywhere we visit, other than Nassau. Goodbye, Starbucks. See you in June! (I actually have a picture of a frappuccino in my car cup holder but it appears most photos I take with my iPhone are sideways when I upload them to this website. A sideways photo of Sailor on an iSUP is OK, but a sideways photo of a frappuccino just isn’t right.)

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.

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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. 

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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.

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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.
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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.
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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.

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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!

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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.

Spanish Wells to Stuart

We arrived back in Florida at the end of May. Guess I was a little lazy about writing the last post of the 2015 cruising season, because here it is the middle of October and I am getting around to documenting the end of our last season while we are planning our 2016 Bahamas Cruise.

We left Spanish Wells after a fantastic visit with my son Peter who flew into Eleuthera and joined us for the rest of the cruise. We then sailed from Royal Island, near Spanish Wells, to Chub Cay on May 19, leaving at 0645 and dropping the anchor at 1515. This was Peter’s first opportunity to sail with us in the Bahamas and luckily we had perfect calm seas. We stayed at Chub Cay one night and the next day sailed to Bimini, leaving at 0550 in the dark and tying up to the dock at Bimini Sands at 1650. 

Here are several photos of our crossing from Chub Cay and entering the waters of Bimini. In the third picture, the red rooftops of the condos surrounding the marina at Bimini Sands Resort and Marina are visible. Sailor had been there before and I am fairly certain he recognized it, or at least he said to himself with a smile, “Land Ho!”

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We stayed in Bimini two days and enjoyed the north and south islands. Peter snorkeled on the beach from Bimini Sands to the southern end of of South Bimini. He saw some fantastic underwater scenes, so next time we are there we’ll have to try it ourselves. Oddly after many visits to Bimini we had never snorkeled the reefs. Of course, we had to show Peter The Dolphin House in North Bimini, and he was impressed. He said he hopes to go back someday and rent a room from Mr. Saunders. We saw Mark’s last Minnesota license plate from his Corvette on one of the walls.  We donated it to Ashley Saunders’ collection of many car license plates two years ago. In his museum, we read the famous quotes he had mounted on the ceiling. To see more photos of The Dolphin House from our previous website, click here.

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One of the prettiest views in Bimini is from the Dolphin House. Mr. Saunders told us that a man from China recently approached him about buying The Dolphin House. Of course, it will always be in the Saunders family as it is a labor of love which he will no doubt continue working on until he can’t physically do it anymore. We will visit every time we go to Bimini to see the latest additions.

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When we stay in South Bimini, we take a very short water taxi ride to North Bimini. We always look for two white Golden Retrievers, who live outside by the water and fish for their food! Yes, we have seen them dive for fish and bring them ashore. They seem pretty healthy so perhaps the locals provide them with other food. We especially like watching these dogs because Sailor’s grandfather is a white English Golden Retriever.

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On May 22, 2015, we left Bimini Sands at 0610. Sailor was glad to spot land as we neared Lake Worth  that afternoon and  entered the channel.

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At 1410 we dropped the anchor near the Lake Worth Inlet after a very calm crossing.  We dinghied over to the park on Peanut Island to stretch our legs. The next morning at 0630, we left the Lake Worth anchorage with a beautiful sunrise in the sky, and started up the ICW to Stuart. We love being able to go under the 65 foot bridges and through the lift bridges while looking at the gorgeous homes along the route. We do not like being waked by speeding powerboats and fishing boats, and as always we seem to end up going on this leg of the trip on a dreaded South Florida weekend when they are out in force. As we entered the ICW, numerous fishing boats were ready to race out onto the ocean.  Later in the day, Sailor seemed to be a little bored, but Peter had a talk with him and they relaxed for the rest of the trip.

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Finally, at noon we pulled into our slip at Sunset Bay Marina, where we have spent hurricane seasons for the last four years. It’s called Sunset Bay for a reason. (That is a power cat in the next slip, not Seas the Day.)

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Thus ended our fourth Bahamas Cruise and our seventh year living aboard S/V Seas the Day. We spent the other three winters in Corpus Christi, the Florida Keys up to the Gulf Coast of Florida, and one season in Miami and Ft.  Lauderdale as we waited to have our hybrid catamaran converted to twin diesels. 2015 was a very different cruising season as we visited new places in the Bahamas and spent three months on a mooring ball in Georgetown. We boat buddied with good friends Tom and Cathie (Interlude) meeting up with them and spending Christmas together in South Beach, Miami,  then sailing together all the way to Georgetown, The Exumas, then back north with stops in Long Island, Cat Island, Little San Salvador, Eleuthera, and finally to Spanish Wells where Interlude continued to Abaco and we stayed in Spanish Wells.  We learned to play Texas Hold-em in Georgetown and played three times a week! We met a lot of new friends and hope to see most of them again in 2016. Sailor, of course, met his BFF, Portuguese Water Dog Zorro aboard M/V All In (Vivian and Chris). He’s never enjoyed playing with another dog this much and hopefully they’ll reunite this season. As we love doing, we spent the last month in Spanish Wells, renting a golf cart and staying on a mooring ball. The highlight of that month was having my son Peter visit, which added to the excitement and caused us to enjoy some new experiences.  He almost didn’t make it though, because after taking the Red Eye from San Francisco, at the Ft. Lauderdale Airport he wasn’t allowed on the plane to Eleuthera without a return ticket to the U.S. When he called us as the plane was loading (thank goodness he knew our Bahamas phone number), we were able to email a copy of our cruising permit to prove to the airline people that he did have a way back to the States. In Spanish Wells, a definite highlight was when we hired James, owner of Spanish Wells Bahamas Ocean Safaris, for a phenomenal day on the water, snorkeling, diving, swimming, finding conch and shells, watching James spear our fish for dinner, and playing on a huge sandbar.  Having Peter sail back to Stuart with us also added to the uniqueness of our 2015 Bahamas Cruise.

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On Our Way!

We left Sunset Bay Marina in Stuart at 1045 this morning, 12/18/14, and entered the ICW on our way to Lake Worth. Tomorrow we’ll have our mast stepped. We had it unstepped (removed) last June so we could get under a bridge in Stuart and go inland in case of a hurricane.  It will be nice to be a sailboat again, although we saved a half hour traveling time today going under some of the low bridges.  We went under nine bridges today. With our mast on, the top of which is 63 feet above the water line, we have to ask for most of them to be raised and this often involves a wait if they are on a schedule. A few are 65 foot fixed bridges. Our wind generator is the highest part of the boat now and it is 22 feet above the water. The bridges have markers in the water showing their current height  depending on the tide.  At the first one we came to the marker read 19 feet so we asked to have the bridge raised.  The tender said his bridge was at 25 feet and we could easily go under it.  We did and had about 5 feet between the wind generator and the bottom of the bridge. We found that other bridge markers were also inaccurate. Obviously, the bascule bridge heights are a guess.

We are exhausted, mainly because we had to spend many, many hours during the last two weeks trying to get a “vacation waiver” for six months of our prescription medications.  Almost all the people we talked with at our insurance companies didn’t have a clue what to do, even though we have done this before with the same insurance.  We spent many hours on the phone, at the pharmacies and even went to our doctor’s office to get paper prescriptions when the ones they phoned in to the pharmacies were incorrect. Finally Tuesday evening we got our prescriptions filled and could get to the many other items on our “to do” list yesterday.  It still took us several hours to get everything ready this morning. The weather is beautiful and the river is calm, but we’ve been rocked by a few fast boats passing us. They are usually small speed boats and maybe don’t realize when we rock, things fly off counters and shelves.  No, that’s not true. They don’t care or at times even enjoy seeing us rock. I finally gave up grabbing things and put everything away like we do when we are sailing on the ocean. This boater behavior is very common on the ICW and inlets in South Florida.imageSailor seems to have easily returned to his job as “first mate boat dog.”  Our previous Goldendoodle Daisy, who was with us for five years on Seas the Day, never wanted to be inside when we were moving.  She always settled in the cockpit under our feet at the helm and didn’t move until she realized we were stopping.  Sailor, on the other hand, is starting his second cruising season on the boat and he divides his time inside and outside.  He spends part of his time on his bed under the salon table where I’m usually sitting. After awhile he goes outside to be under Mark’s feet. When that gets boring he walks around as far as his tether will let him go which is just a few feet. His nose is a little dirty in the pictures because he discovered the dirt in our newly purchased patio tomato plant.  Can’t blame him since he doesn’t have a yard to dig in.

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Another huge difference is that Sailor “goes” on the boat and Daisy never would.  He uses the trampolines which makes clean-up very easy. (We always collect the poop in bags and throw it away with the rest of our garbage on land but the urine goes nicely into the water.) Sailor still gets lots of shore walks and several daily runs on beaches, but if the weather is bad or we can’t get ashore, we appreciate that he is boat trained. Below is Sailor’s “head.”

imageWe arrived in North Lake Worth at 1500.  While going under the Parker Bridge we received a phone call from Old Port Cove Marina.  We’ve been trying to get reservations there for days, but they were full.  They offered us a tie up on their fuel dock  for tonight, which we quickly accepted.  We love this marina and it will be our last until Bimini.  At $1.70 a ft in South Florida in the winter, that is very reasonable, especially at a high end marina. As an example, Tiger Woods docks his yacht here. The price is actually $2.00 a ft but they give a 15% discount if you have Boat US, which most boaters purchase  for towing, kind of like AAA for cars. We even got a bottle of wine when we checked in, welcoming us to Old Port Cove, together with a card for free coffee, tea and soft drinks while we are here.  An added benefit is that friends Fred and Karen (Southerly II) are here for the month and are located a dock away from us.  We enjoyed a delicious dinner with them at Sandpiper’s Cove, the upscale marina restaurant, tonight. We figured we deserved a reward for all of our hard work the last few weeks.  It is such a relief to have that behind us so we can be on our way to our 4th Bahamas cruise.

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.)

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Bahamas Cruise #3 Begins

DSCF0007We finally left the dock at Sunset Bay yesterday.  On Sunday we drove to Ft. Lauderdale to pick up a new (used) chart plotter.  Mark spent the rest of Sunday getting all the electronics working and the chart plotter installed.  Monday morning we were ready to go.  The ideal time to leave would have been in the early afternoon when the tide was coming in and we would be pushed away from the dock.  Knowing I was nervous about the current forcing us too close to the other boats on the dock as we left, 8 or 9 dockmates were there at 8 am ready to help.  One friend even came aboard with a fender and boat hook.  As it turned out we didn’t need a lot of help. With me holding a fender at the very back of the boat at the bottom of the sugar scoop, Mark pivoted the front off the dock and when we were almost pointing straight out, we released the final line and headed between the dock and the mooring field to the fuel dock where we left Dave off, filled our tanks, pumped out the holding tank, and called the Old Roosevelt Bridge tender to ask him to raise it.  Usually this method isn’t enough, but thankfully this time it worked perfectly.  In the photo below you can see the first three bridges we had to go under starting with the Old Roosevelt bascule bridge, then the railroad bridge, then the 65 ft New Roosevelt Bridge.

IMG_4396Our major concern was Sailor, since this was his maiden voyage.  He settled in nicely in Daisy’s old spot under at the helm next to Mark’s feet.  He stayed there most of the day until it became too hot.  Then he moved into the salon under the table.  I gave him a peanut butter stuffed bone that I had bought specifically to comfort him, since he can chew on it for hours.

IMG_0255 IMG_0263This is the only part of the trip where we are on the ICW (Intracoastal Waterway) and it is beautiful.  We pass through multiple areas lined with mansions sometimes with megayachts on their docks.

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The ICW is usually much calmer than the ocean, however we encountered quite a few boats racing by us creating wakes that bounced us around.  One incident in particular was scary to the point of being dangerous.  We had to go under 12 bridges, only three being fixed 65 ft bridges.  Some opened on request and others were on a fixed half hour opening schedule.  After requesting an opening at one, the bridge started to raise and we pulled closer to go under it.  When boats are on both sides, usually you talk on the VHF radio to arrange who is going first.  The protocol is either the first one to arrive, or the one that is going against the current goes first. Smaller boats that don’t need the bridge raised are supposed to yield to the ones going under, especially sailboats who have to maneuver their mast away from the raised bridge.  As we were going under it we had to move to the other side of the channel to avoid hitting the raised bridge.  A small pontoon boat with a load of passengers sped right towards us and met us under the bridge, in the spot we needed to be in.  I ran to the front gesturing and yelling at them to get out of the way, pointing up at how close our mast was to the raised bridge.  They made some gesture which seemed to communicate, “You have plenty of room.”  Idiots!!  We squeaked through, lucky not to have hit our mast which would have been a disaster.  This was no doubt a group that lived nearby and traversed the ICW frequently.  Yet, the were clueless not just boating etiquette but vital safety rules.  The photo below is a bascule bridge we had gone under with no problems, a smaller sailboat coming after us.  You can see how a boat with a tall mast has to move to the open side to avoid the bridge.

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We arrived at our anchorage in Lake Worth (Palm Beach) at 3:30 pm.  We prefer to stop at the north anchorage where there is easy access to a dinghy  dock next to Federal Highway with every store we could want, plus a Starbucks.  However, it takes about 1/2 hour to get from that anchorage to the one we stayed at which is right at the mouth of the inlet to the ocean.  After setting the anchor and getting settled in, we took the dinghy to Peanut Island.  This is a small island in Lake Worth next to our anchorage that is a beautiful park.  People snorkel there and you can walk on the beaches or wide trails.  Sailor had a blast because there was no one near us and we were able to let him off leash. As soon as he got out of the dinghy, for his first time going ashore in a dinghy, he raced up and down the beach and…..straight into the very calm water. I’m sure he didn’t realize it was water, never having been in it at a beach.  The shock on his face was priceless.  I didn’t capture that, but did get a photo of him while he got back to shore as fast as he could.  Below are a few photos from Peanut Island.

 Not too sure about getting into this dinghy.

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Getting out isn’t so easy either.

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I think I’ll run on the beach. Hey!  What’s this wet stuff?  I better get out of here quick!
imagePeanut island in Lake Worth is a great place to walk, or for Sailor to experience his first swim.

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 Next stop Ft. Lauderdale. Day One was fantastic!