07/16/2012, Harborage Marina, St. Pete, Florida
My cousin John joined me for a cruise from Sarasota to St. Petersburg this past Saturday. We motored and sailed our way up to St. Pete via the Intracoastal Waterway, a total distance of about 33 miles. We left at a leisurely 9 AM and arrived around 3, backed Abundance into a rather narrow slip on E dock and met John's longtime friend, Bob Synhorst. We hung out all afternoon with Bob, had some drinks then went to dinner near the Municipal Marina downtown.
We really like it here, and we moved to A dock yesterday to be closer to the entrance and parking lot. We plan to be here for about a year while we make many improvements to Abundance and save some Boat Units.
It has been a glorious 8 months since we bought the boat - we have traveled many miles, met some really interesting people and learned a lot about cruising, and cruising with dogs, too. We are happy that we brought our boys with us and they have been a joy to have on the boat.
The photo is the Sunshine Skyway bridge as we passed under it in Tampa Bay.
07/01/2012, Sarasota, Florida
We really enjoyed our stay in Key West, starting out at the Conch Harbor marina then moving to the Key West Bight marina when tropical storm Debby blocked our departure to Sarasota. Marty was still with us while we enjoyed the local cuisine and entertainment. The sky was gray most of the time with rain showers coming often. We went to a movie, "Dark Shadows" while in Key West - and I must say that the theater is quite a cool place.
On Tuesday, the 26th, Marty flew out of Key West to Tampa then Houston and on to Las Vegas. We enjoyed Marty's company for ten days from Key Biscayne to Key West, covering all the Keys via Islamorada and Marathon with a stop at Caesar's Creek.
I used www.passageweather.com to evaluate the weather situation while waiting to leave. It's a very reliable site that uses NOAA information.
We finally had good enough weather for a morning departure on Wednesday, the 27th of June. We had met a great guy, Russ Hoadley, next to us at the Bight, who was sailing a Catalina 380. Russ was waiting for a weather window and he left an hour ahead of us. We stayed in contact with Russ via VHF on the way to Sarasota. Russ and his crew mate Henry were going to Tampa. We left at 0815 and arrived at Venice Inlet at 0845 on Thursday, giving us an average speed of 6.5 knots. The gulf provided us with a variety of conditions through the night, starting with large swells leaving Key West where current opposed wind, then calm conditions with good wind, then swells from the SW and NW at 4-8 feet until around sundown.
After dark and into the evening, the wind came around onto the nose, so we motored until sunrise when the wind gave us a few more glorious hours of sailing. We went in through Venice Inlet then motored to a dock on Siesta Key in Sarasota. Many thanks to Jim Syprett, my cousin's law partner, who is providing us with his slip while his boat is in Ft. Lauderdale.
My cousin John and his wife Barbara welcomed us into their home for two nights while we rested up for our trip to NC. Barbara is a wonderful host to our doggies too. She provided a place for them and introduced them to her two boys, Titus and Sting, both award-winning agility dogs. They are high-energy compared to our boys but they all had a fun time interacting.
We will be staying in the Sarasota/Bradenton area for at least three months while Yvonne works. We want to get the decks painted while here and do some more projects.
As I write this, we are on the Waccamaw River at the cabin of our dear friends Yvonne and James Sarvis. We rented a car and came here to pick up our Tahoe and take it to Florida so we have wheels while we work there.
The doggies are doing fine and I think they are enjoying their new lives aboard the boat and traveling to new places almost every day. As I reflect on their past, they lived very sheltered lives with us in Las Vegas - they knew the house and the neighborhood but didn't have any interaction with other dogs. Now they meet new folks often and live on the boat and on land.
06/23/2012, Seaport at the Key West Bight
It's Saturday afternoon here in Key West and we still haven't seen the sun set at Mallory Square! That weather system, now known as Debbie, has been sending moisture our way and all over the Gulf of Mexico for days now. We had a lively sail down here from Miami - covered 135 miles with only 10 hours of motor time. I'm enjoying the way the boat sails while beam and broad reaching. In 20-25 knots of breeze, we do about 7 knots which is fine with me.
Marty Hagans joined us in Miami and has been sailing with us. He has to fly back to Vegas on the 26th from Tampa - so may have to catch a flight out of Key West then since we may lay over here until Thursday waiting for Debbie to go away. The forecast now shows the storm going north then west, away from us. We expect high winds this coming Tuesday.
The dogs are doing well aboard - we walk them three or four times a day since there's a nice fenced grassy area right at the Conch Marina where we stayed our first two nights since arriving. It's $3.75 per foot there and now that we moved to the City Marina, it's only $2.20 per foot.
We are off to happy hour in a few minutes at Turtle Kraals, a local restaurant, and they have oysters for 50 cents each!! Yippee - Yvonne is eager to get going so I have to finish this entry.
We plan to head from here to Sarasota and may stop at Naples on the way north. She will be getting a job in Bradenton or Sarasota in a couple of weeks after we go to South Carolina and pick up our Tahoe and drive it back to west Florida.
We missed the Sailstice celebration on Lake Mead - we hope it was a blast for everyone. Greetings to all our friends and family from Key West!
06/12/2012, Islamorada, Florida
Sorry it's been so long since we've posted to the blog - no excuses...
Our last post was from the Kilkenny marina in Georgia and we have traveled quite a few miles since then. We finished the ICW in Fort Lauderdale and went out on the ocean at Port Everglades because there's a bridge we don't fit under between Miami and Lauderdale. We came in at Key Biscayne and went to the Crandon marina where we met my sister Judith and her husband John.
They spent two nights on the boat before we set out - and I learned that Judith hadn't spent the night on a boat on an anchor before - so we were the first test case!
As we left the Crandon slip headed for the pumpout, the cable on the centerboard broke as Yvonne was cranking it up. So we stayed another day while we got the parts and I dove on the boat to install the new cable. We measured the board depth and it's 10 feet deep when down 100%. We also found that we draw 4' 8" which is very handy in the rice paddy sort of sailing in Florida.
I'll try to get more of the trip along the ICW entered since it was glorious to make the journey. We anchored in some really lovely places and stayed more that a night in some of them. We made stops in St. Augustine, Daytona, Melbourne, Fort Pierce, Fort Lauderdale and many more in SC and GA.
After left Key Biscayne, we dove a reef then spent the first night in Black Caesar's Creek where silver is reportedly hidden by the pirate after whom the cove is named. The next day we sailed to Islamorada.
Sailing down to Islamorada was the best sailing we've done in Abundance so far. We had a whole day of beam to broad reaching in 12-15 knots of breeze and we made 6.5-7 knots all day long with a smooth ride on the outside.
The little marina in Smuggler's Cove has a fantastic dockmaster, Steve and his wife Jen. We side-tied on a new concrete dock and had plenty of power to run both AC units and all the rest, even did laundry while here. We love the washer and dryer on the boat!!
All the systems seem to be working well now - after replacing the starboard AC unit in Fort Lauderdale. It's a 16K BTU unit that we installed, replacing a 10K unit. I'm learning a lot about boats by doing all these repairs and improvements!
The dogs are doing very well as you can see in the photo - they love to get into the dinghy and go ashore to take care of business. Sometimes they leap off the back of the boat before I can grab the handle on their life jackets to hoist them down. Nate had a scratch or something on his eye that we had treated in Melbourne, Fl but we think it's still not right. They are doing quite well for geriatric canines!
More to follow - I'll try to do better.
I have this orange rubber hammer that I beat on the anchor chain to free it from the jaws of the windlass. Yesterday I bruised my wrist, scaped my knuckles on the deck and "purpled" my thumb when I mistakenly put my knee on the control pad for the windlass which brings the anchor up at the same time I was trying to put it down! I then fell backward to get myself free of it. Because of my stupidity with injured pride, I had to hear David semi yell at me about safety for a brief time until he lovingly asked "Are you OK?"
Let me tell you that this first month of living on a cruising boat has been a huge learning curve that I feel "I'll have to walk the bike across" at times. Other than the intricate steps to deploy and raise the anchor, I've had instructions on various other procedures such as how to hold the bow of the boat into the wind (while he messes with the anchor). I got the steps to turn on/off the generator that we run 2-3 times a day to cool the refrigerator/freezer and operate that darn electric (yes I said electric) stove. Besides the generator there is a 3 foot AC/DC control panel with about 35 switches that I'm still trying to remember the difference between. I am the fender and line girl that has to dress the boat up when we come into a marina to pumpout because we really don't know what side we are going to dock to and then I hurl lines at some person on the dock. In Lake Mead when you see 30 feet of water, it's time to put on the proverbial brakes; well out here we don't get off 1700 rpm until we get below 7 feet in the intracoastal waterway. Thank God for those Power squadron classes on charting and radio usage. I'm having to read the chart plotter, radar, depth gauge and speed while weaving my way through the green and red markers after considering the tides and current while asking for a bridge opening! (I used to think multitasking was driving, talking on phone, eating and writing down an address at the same time).
Yet I'm loving this extended vacation that I've been on since the middle of April. Very steep learning curve but I believe new learning staves off Alzheimer's. There has only been one time in 6 weeks that I had to separate myself from David in the V-berth and "pray" (no, really that is what I did) for an attitude adjustment. Time and prayers help a lot of things, attitudes included. Last night I laid in bed and laughed until I cried thinking about how I must have looked to David out there on the bow of the boat fighting with that windlass. Just imagine it and laugh with me and not at me! (Better yet, pray for me).
Yvonne on S/V Abundance
05/11/2012, Kilkenny Creek, GA
We thought it was time to spend some more money on a marina - with lots of power and water. The boat needs an oil change and a fillup of the water tanks. We haven't taken on diesel since Atlantic City, NJ - they are probably around half full now...
The refrigerator will get cool by running for as long as needed, which I didn't want to do on the genset. We are running the little icemaker to see what it can do. Might even do some laundry tonight if I can hook up the dryer exhaust hose which I took out to do the electrical mods. Our new inverter/charger is working perfectly - comes right up to 150 amps to charge the hungry 555 amp-hour bank when it's down on charge. Having the inverter at the ready makes the boat feel like home - plug your charger, it works. Turn on a lamp and it comes on. We can watch Netflix on the flatscreen with the sound bar going full tilt. Roughing it all the way.
This marina is an oddity. Active Captain reports that two brothers have owned it for 50 years - and I think that was how long ago they upgraded the docks. I had a handful coming along side with a wind onto the dock and current astern. Once we got in, our 45,000 pounds seemed more than the floating dock could bear, but a local fishing guide assured me that bigger boats had not prevailed against these docks in the past, so with that relief in my mind, we paid and went below to prepare for our overnight stay (drinks and Internet). There is wifi and reportedly a fine restaurant just down the wharf which we will attend to in a moment. Notice that there are no cleats. Just 2X6 boards sticking up. This marina is comparable to the Bali marina I stayed in a year ago on the Blue Water rally. Getting out of there with a wind pushing us on the dock was interesting.
I'm lobbying for making an ocean passage to St. Augustine tomorrow, but Yvonne seems to want more of the ICW. If we set out for an overnighter, we arrive in 20 hours, otherwise it's 3 days more to St. Augustine which is where we will anchor at our broker's dock (free) and get the refrigeration repaired (not free) no matter how long it takes to get there.
There is a Civil War era house right on the way to the restaurant where we are told we get a history lesson. I am history challenged, being a techie, so it would be fun to see what I might learn.
Heading for Florida - whether by ICW or ocean passage - we are now in our second state since we left Myrtle Beach on May 2nd. It's been a fast and fun 9 days.