19 July 2017 | Oriental, NC
20 April 2017 | Marathon City Marina - Boot Key Harbor
09 June 2016 | Galveston, TX
01 June 2016 | Pensacola, FL
23 May 2016 | Moving from Key West to Dry Tortugas
16 May 2016 | Marathon City Marina, Boot Key - Marathon, FL
06 May 2016 | Hope Town Harbour, Elbow Cay, Bahamas
16 April 2016 | Hope Town, Elbow Cay, Abacos, Bahamas
09 April 2016 | Cherokee Point, Abacos, Bahamas
21 March 2016 | Cat Island, Bahamas
14 March 2016 | Salt Pond - Long Island, Bahamas
04 March 2016 | Chat & Chill Beach, Stocking Island, Exumas, Bahamas
22 February 2016 | Stocking Island aka Williams Cay
21 February 2016 | Little Farmers Cay
18 February 2016 | Little Farmers Cay, Exumas, Bahamas
11 February 2016 | Staniel Cay - anchored between the Majors
08 February 2016 | Staniel Cay Exumas bahamas
26 January 2016 | Bimini Sands Marina, Bahamas
The adventure continues
19 July 2017 | Oriental, NC
Karen - Calm/evening
Summer has just been rushing by. We returned to the Bahamas for a few months beginning in May, this time clearing in through Great Harbour Cay. Great Harbour is part of the Berry Islands and is in the middle area of the Bahamas. This time we wanted to spend all of our trip further north - in the Abacos. Our grandson, Connor, was joining us for a visit and we wanted to be in an area that would offer a 6 year old as many distractions as possible!
Our son, Brian, would be bringing Connor and then returning to California after a couple of days. And I would fly with Connor back to San Diego at the end of his visit. They landed in Marsh Harbour and as soon as everyone was settled on the boat, we sailed over to Hope Town for the evening. We spent the next couple of days exploring the beaches, touring the old light house, and learning how to body surf. We went to Marsh Harbour to stock up on groceries (and juice boxes!), sailed to Green Turtle Cay, fed the pigs on No Name Cay, and petted the sting rays on Monjack Cay. We kayaked, snorkeled, swam, collected sea shells, motored around in the dinghy, and watched movies at night on the boat. When I left to take Connor back to San Diego at the end of his visit - I’m pretty sure Ron went back to the boat and collapsed from exhaustion! It was a great visit and I hope we get to do it all again soon.
We returned to Florida the last week of June, clearing customs in Riviera Beach. After fuel/groceries resupply we headed back offshore to Cape Canaveral. Very cool to see the NASA launch pad - imagining what it must have been like to see the rocket launches for the Mercury/Gemini/Apollo programs. I remember watching them all on TV, listening to Walter Cronkite.
We went offshore and dodged thunderstorms, arriving in Savannah, GA on July 1st. What a great place! We stayed for a few days visiting with family and catching up with friends. Watched the July 4th fireworks display at Hunter Army Airbase. Beautiful city - really enjoyed our visit there, especially visiting with Chris/Melissa/Zander and Cathy/Rick.
After leaving Savannah, we headed north on the ICW, arriving in Charleston on the 7th. We anchored for a few hours in the harbor next to Fort Sumter and took the tour. Our cruiser’s guidebooks cautioned that anchoring in the harbor could be difficult and to watch for strong tidal currents. As we were looking around for a place to stay for the evening, Ron saw a fast moving thunderstorm coming and decided to quickly drop an anchor to ride it out. Good call. I got the anchor down with no time to put on a bridle. Closed all the hatches and put away loose gear - and then we got slammed by the winds. We had been towing our dinghy/motor - the wind flipped it, putting the motor upside down in the water. The anchor held (still love that Mantus anchor) and we had our engine on to help take some of the strain off of the chain. It passed quickly. Ron flipped the dinghy back over and that little 15 year old Tohatsu motor fired right up! The bench seat from the dinghy was gone, and we lost one flotation cushion. No other damage. We found out afterwards that the wind speed hit 60 MPH! So instead of trying to save a few dollars and anchor out for the night, we decided instead to splurge and pull into the marina for an evening with air conditioning and adult beverages… In spite of the rough start, Charleston was beautiful. We stayed two nights and took advantage of the marina's free shuttle and roamed all over the city. From there we headed back offshore to Cape Fear, NC. All the bad weather had all passed us by and we had a really nice evening sail with a full moon. I still don’t sleep well on three hour watches, but I’ve learned to “bank” a few hours of sleep in the afternoon ahead of time to make it more comfortable. Ron can sleep anywhere at any time! Once we reached Cape Fear, we decided to stay in the ICW for this part of the trip - and just take our time.
On Monday the 17th, we passed through the USMC training area of Camp Lejeune. We left our anchorage early that morning in order to pass through a swing bridge that had a timed schedule. When we radioed the bridge, we were advised that they were having live firing exercises and that the bridge would open later in the day on odd hours. It was interesting - we could hear the concussion sounds of the explosives in the distance, and then the bridge master calls us and says to come on through. So there’s a couple of small military patrol boats and they give us the thumbs up. The explosions stop and we motor on for an hour to the next bridge and wave at a couple more patrol boats. And then the explosions start again. Just another day in the ICW.
Oriental, NC, is our current spot. The city marina has a free transient dock (up to 48 hrs). Right across the street from a nice coffee shop with free wifi! AND the Piggly Wiggly has a shuttle van that will come and take you to the grocery store! How cool is that!!!
I’ve been sending post cards to the grand babies from every country and/or state that we pass through - they are getting quite a collection!
I have a Cuba stamp in my passport
05 May 2017
Hola! I now have a Cuban stamp in my passport!
We had a beautiful sail from Key West to Cuba. We moved the boat from Marathon to Key West, left Key West on Monday afternoon, sailed all night, and arrived in Marina Hemingway in Havana, Cuba at about 11:00 am on April 24th. It was an all night sail and it couldn't have gone better. The winds were from the NW 10-20 kts, and seas were 3 to 4 feet. We had our fishing line out and Ron even caught a nice sized 15 lb. black fin tuna.
Within the past year, the government approved tourist travel to resume between Cuba and US. Despite this, travel is not automatic and a little prep work is required for potential visitors. The US Coast Guard has to grant a sailing permit, but only for those that qualify under one of the 12 established reasons to travel (ex. sporting event, family visits, education, etc.). Ron and I asked for a permit under the reason labeled as "people to people" saying that we would write about and share our experiences from the trip. We were given a permit for two weeks with specific dates of travel and instructed that we had to return directly to the US after the trip.
In preparation of the trip, we discovered a few notable pieces of information. First, no US credit cards are currently accepted in Cuba. All transactions have to be done in cash. US dollars can be exchanged at the marina for Cuban "Convertible Units of Currency" i.e. CUCs. The exchange rate for US dollars is 1 to 1, but there is a 3 pct exchange fee and 10 pct exchange tax, making $1.00 USD = $0.87 CUC. So plan ahead!! On the island, Wifi is very limited. Our phones were pretty much useless. Our solution was to buy wifi cards at the hotel on the marina property, $1.50 CUC per hour and we could log onto our laptops at any hotel or shop that offered wifi.
When approaching Havana, we raised our yellow "quarantine" flag and advised the harbor master of our arrival. The channel into Marina Hemingway was well marked so we had no problem finding the customs dock. The medical doctor, immigration officers, and health inspector were waiting for us. Most of them spoke English very well and the process went smoothly. Once we were cleared, we lowered our Q flag and raised a Cuban flag on the starboard halyard. Of course my Texas flag was on the port halyard (only slightly lower!). There were lots of boats from other countries, and even some from the US. HOWEVER, Compromise was the only boat we saw from Texas. Yee Haw!
The harbor master led us to our boat slip. The slip was right next to the shoreline break water so we had terrific sunset views! The cost to dock our boat was $0.70 CUCs per foot, with extra charges for water and electricity. The marina is old but seemed to be well maintained. It was built in 1957 and has room for about 400 boats.
From the marina, it is approximately 9 to 10 miles to Havana. To get around there are buses, government taxis, and Maquinas (antique US automobiles). I loved those old cars and took waaaay to many photos of them! They are a little more expensive than the government taxis, but much more fun! Ron was obsessed with them and would miss out on seeing the sights because he was too busy looking at the cars! The drivers are all proud of their cars, even though most do not have their original engines!
For our trip to Cuba we arranged to buddy sail with another boat "Island Time" with Mike Wirsing and Ann Kirkmyer. This turned out to be a great idea and we had the best time together - sharing taxis and planning outings. Our first day was spent getting settled in, exploring the marina, and enjoying a celebratory adult beverage. By the way, Cuban beer is pretty good! Favorites were Cristal and Bucanero.
We spoke to other sailors who had already made this trip. One of the things they advised us was to bring along little "gifts" for locals. The Cuban people make very little money. The government provides for their food, education, and medical needs. Basic needs are met, but no "luxury items or extras" are provided. One man (elementary school teacher) I spoke to said he only brings home $250 pesos a month - and he has two little girls! It was not unusual to be approached by someone with a smile and asked, "do you have something for me?" I took small boxes of crayons, bars of soap, tooth brushes, little toys - and I gave them away whenever I saw the opportunity.
Day two - Walking tour of Old Havana. We hired a Maquina and took off for Old Havana (cost $20.00 CUCs one way). The government has been working to restore the lovely old buildings in this area - and it shows! There is still a lot of work to do, but you can see the progress being made. We stopped at the Capitolo (the capital building) and walked to the Revolucion Museo (Revolution Museum). We did the tour and then migrated to the original Sloppy Joe's restaurant afterwards for Mojitos and Cuban Sandwiches - gotta love this cultural exchange! Spent the rest of the day just wandering the streets of old Havana and taking photos. I especially enjoyed strolling the Malecon, which is the seawall boulevard that has views of the Castillo Morro, a famous fort that guards the entry to Havana harbor.
Day three - All things Ernest Hemingway!!! We started off by hiring another Maquina to take us to Finca Vigia, Hemingway's home in Cuba, where he wrote "For Whom The Bell Tolls" and "The Old Man and The Sea". Beautiful place and well worth the visit. His fishing boat, Pilar, is also on display there. Afterwards we visited Cojimar, a nearby fishing village Hemingway liked to use for fishing tournaments. We had lunch at El Terrazo, his favorite restaurant in the area. In a fishing village you must order seafood! Ron ordered octopus and I had the grouper and they were both delicious! Just so you know - almost every dish offered in any restaurant is served with black beans and rice. Vegetables are limited - and you don't readily see beef on any menu. It's mostly seafood, pork, and poultry.
Did I not say this day was all about Hemingway? From Cojimar we went to the Bodeguita del Medio for mojitos! Did you know that Hemingway is also credited for creating the Daquiri? We were headed for the El Floridita, another of his favorite watering holes (and our last planned stop for the day) when we were side tracked by people we met along the way. We ended up at the Buena Vista Social Club and were entertained by the original band who wrote the song "Guantanamera". It was the maestros's 90th birthday. Well, one thing led to another and we bought the band a round of drinks and a good time was had by all!
Day four - Hershey Train Adventure. Hershey Chocolate company built an electric train in Cuba in the early 1900's to ferry workers and supplies from the city out to their sugar cane fields and mills in the country - and it still kinda sorta works! We hired another classic car for the trip to the ferry and crossed over to the train station at Casa Blanca (no joke) only to find out that the train doesn't run on an exact schedule (approximo) and that we had missed it. Not wanting to waste the day, we decided to hike up the hill to see the statue of el Cristo de la Havana (Christ the Redeemer) to get a better view of the harbor, and Castillo Morro.
Day five - Hershey Train Adventure Reboot. This time we were able to catch the train. It's supposed to be a 3.5 hr train ride into the country from Casa Blanca to Matanzas. It was a rickety old train with hard seats and no bathroom facilities. The windows don't all work and every seat was full (there was even a guy who brought cages of small birds along with him). After about an hour and a half we arrived in Hershey, now renamed Camilo Cienfuegos - and were told by the engineer to get off. There was something wrong with the electric lines further down the track - and that the train would not continue. The next train going in either direction would leave the next day! We were able to arrange for a taxi to come and pick us up - and while we waited, we visited with people in the station. One man was asking where we were from. Cuba gets lots of tourists, but only recently has there been a large number of Americans. When we said we were from Texas, he got all excited and did his imitation of a wild west gun slinger! It was pretty funny with our travel partner squaring off with his imaginary guns and the two of them dueling in the rail station. Another man sat next to me and told me he was a teacher and asked if it would be okay for him to practice his English with me. He also wanted to ask me a few questions regarding America, specifically the television and movie business. Seems Cuba was able to pick up television broadcasting over the airwaves from Florida in the 80's and 90's so they could see CBS broadcasts. His question: Was the show "Dallas" based on a true story? Were any of the characters real? And on the movies that are about college or university life, it seems that all the students do is drink and party. Is that typical of American schools? (did he see "Animal House"??) For the life of me, I could not convince him that this was considered entertainment and that these shows were fiction. Dear Lord, I wonder what he thought about "The Dukes of Hazard"?!
Our taxi finally arrived at the Hershey station and took us on to Veradero, a seaside town in the Matanzas province, about 60 miles away. With no hotel reservations, we started trying to find a room at a casa particular. Casa particulars are like a bed and breakfast. They will have a little sign on the gate or doorway with a blue anchor and the house name on it. It was a busy weekend so we had to ask at a dozen different places before we finally found vacancies. Ours, Villa Buganvilia, charged us $40 CUCs for one night, with an extra $5 CUCs each for breakfast. Nothing fancy, but the room was clean, had cold air conditioning, and a good shower! And OMG the coffee was wonderful!
Day six - Veradero. After breakfast, we met up with Mike and Ann and found an "on-off" sightseeing bus to take us around town. We got off at Marina Gaviota to have a look around. It's in a huge 5-star resort area. The marina has over 1,000 slips (which looked mostly empty) and is the largest in Cuba. All very beautiful, but it was not what I was expecting to see when we planned this trip. We finished our sightseeing in time to get to the bus station to catch a bus that would take us back to Havana. Or so we thought...
After about the first 10 miles or so, the bus started over heating. The driver kept pulling over and putting water into the engine, but he was unable to keep the bus moving. We were able to flag down a government taxi - negotiated a fare of $66 CUCs to get us back to Havana, and to Hemingway Marina. It was late in the afternoon when we got back to the boat - and we didn't want to go far for dinner, so we all decided to ride in the dinghy over to a local restaurant, Paladar Laurel, for a meal and an early evening.
Day seven - Getting ready to leave. The whole time we were in Cuba we watched the weather, knowing that we had to plan our return trip to Florida. Our son, Brian, had been sending daily weather updates to our Delorme satellite tracker. Between his updates, and what we could find using wifi at the local hotel, we decided that there would be a good crossing window in 48 hours, Tuesday - May 2nd. So we had one more day of sightseeing left.
I talked Ron into riding our bicycles to Fusterlandia, a nearby area where a Cuban artist, Jose Fuster, covered his house, and the surrounding village with bright ceramic tiles. It looks like a combination of Picaso and Disney and must have taken him years to complete. My poor photos don't do it justice.
Our last item was to stock up on souvenirs (cigars, rum, coffee) and pack up the boat. We gave the required 24 hour notice of departure to the marina authorities. Our sailing buddies met us for one last meal and we planned our return trip. We wanted to cross the straits in daylight hours this time, so that meant leaving before dawn. We pulled out of our slips at 4 am, checked out at the customs dock and headed north to Florida. Another wonderful sail, and we arrived back in Marathon at around 10 pm.
A Coast Guard aircraft started circling our boat when we were only about 30 miles out of Havana. He saw our boat on AIS and began hailing us by name. They asked for the skipper so I was happy to hand the radio off to Ron. They wanted to know if we had been in Cuba, what our planned port of US entry was, and asked for our documentation numbers. This just shows that the USCG is not taking this lightly. We called the Customs Border Patrol number once we anchored in FL, and were advised that Marathon does not allow for check in. We had to take the bus to Key West to get our passports stamped.
We are back in Marathon Harbor - resting a bit, resupplying the pantry, getting some work done on our water maker, and making plans to leave again. In two weeks we will head east to the Bahamas. This retirement living is hard work and not for the timid!!!
SPAM! It's what's for dinner!
20 April 2017 | Marathon City Marina - Boot Key Harbor
Karen/Late evening and windy
Compromise is tied to a mooring ball in Boot Key Harbor. It’s pretty windy tonight so we are rocking and rolling along with all of our new neighbors. The trip south down the western side of Florida included stops in Pensacola, Port St. Joe, Tarpon Springs/Clearwater, and Naples before we sailed into the Keys. While we were in Pensacola, we were anchored next to s/v Krakato - we had recognized the boat from our morning walks at Waterford Harbor so we dinghy-ed over to say hi! And while we were in Naples, we visited with Steve and Donna, s/v Moondance. It was so great to see them and catch up!
Our roughest passage was on an overnight sail from Pensacola to Port St. Joe. We typically check the weather forecast using at least three separate sources before we ever leave port. And even then you can sometimes be surprised! Night sails are still not my favorite, but I’m getting somewhat accustomed to them and we have a pretty good routine - three hours on and three hours off. Music on the stereo, lots of snacks, CRAP, and a thermos full of hot coffee. I had made a quiche ahead of time so we could have an easy dinner in the cockpit while we sailed. Ron likes SPAM (weird, I know) so I added some the quiche instead of bacon - I’m nice like that! The night started out okay, but got progressively worse. The weather was still cold and wet so we were using our foul weather gear including life vests and jack-line tethers. My watch from midnight to 3am was pretty stressful with wind in the mid-20kts and 6 foot waves. I wasn't feeling very well, regretting eating the SPAM… and counting the minutes until I could wake Ron up to hand off the watch. He always takes the 3am to 6am shift since that seems to be the hardest one. I crawled into the bunk and tried to catch a little sleep (while being tossed around in the dark) when Ron came to wake me up. He wanted me to hurry - get dressed and up on deck “just in case”! The winds had kicked up to 35+ knots and seas were easily 8 feet or higher. Ron was worried about a possible knock down. I helped him pull the sails down and secure everything - although some of the cabinets down in the boat had bounced open and we could hear pots/pans/bottles/cans rolling around. We gave up trying to navigate altogether and just tried to keep our nose in the wind. The SPAM that had been such a good idea earlier was now seriously barking at the back of my throat. It all seemed to last for hours, but the wind finally died down around sunrise. I looked at what was recorded on the chart plotter afterwards, and our sailing track looked like a tangle of string! We suffered no damage, except to our nerves - and my stomach! We joke about it now, but I don’t ever want to see SPAM on my plate again.
Somewhere between Naples and the Keys, our chart plotter decided to quit. Since it’s still under warranty, Ron boxed it up and sent it back to the manufacturer for repairs. The whole process has taken a couple of weeks so we’ve been resting up and enjoying ourselves in Marathon - meeting new people, learning how to play Mexican Train dominos, taking yoga classes, riding bikes - and getting ready for the next trip. We’re going south, to Cuba!
I’ll be posting photos later!
03 March 2017
Finally! We are on the move again!!! We were in Texas for a lot longer than we had originally planned so we are very happy to be on the boat and traveling again. We left Kemah on the 18th, the first weekend of Mardi Gras. I talked Ron into reserving a slip for us at Moody Gardens in Galveston. It’s a little pricey ($2.25 per foot). The hotel has a courtesy shuttle that took us downtown to the Mardi Gras parade route and then picked us up again when we were ready to go home. You can’t beat the service!
After a few delays getting out of Galveston, we headed east on the ICW and made pretty good time, getting to Shell Morgan landing near Intercoastal City, LA for fuel on Wednesday the 23rd. And arriving in Houma by Thursday evening. I wasn’t able to see my brother, Russell, before leaving TX so he and his lovely lady, Tammy, arranged to meet us in Houma at the City Marina. We were all able to visit with old friends, Bubba and Joan, and enjoyed a big Mardi Gras weekend in Thibodaux. The company was wonderful (thank you Debbie and Buck!) and the food was fabulous! I brought a whole bunch of beads back from the parade. Too much fun!
We left Houma and headed to New Orleans. Luck and poor planning put us transiting the Industrial Locks in New Orleans on Fat Tuesday where we had another delay. A Mardi Gras parade on one of the bascule bridges kept us stuck for awhile while we waited for the marchers to cross! I didn’t catch anything at this one, but got to see the parade - feathers, drums, whistles and all!
Tonight we are at anchor off of Alabama, near Isle Aux Herbes?? That’s what it says on the map… Tomorrow we should reach Pensacola, FL and start our turn south towards St. Joe. Yay! We’ll get to sail! All the wind so far has been from the east and in our face so we can’t get much actual sailing in.
We’re checking email tonight and resting up. Have a wonderful evening and enjoy the photos!
09 June 2016 | Galveston, TX
Karen/Sunny and bright
I have been trying to step up a bit and take on more responsibilities around the boat: handling sails, emptying the holding tank in the head, keeping all the hand-held equipment charged, learning more about the navigation systems, understanding all of the systems in the boat. Ron kept the water maker running all day to get us a full tank of water. So when he was finished and needed to close the equipment down, I offered to close the valve and shut off the water maker. Only, I closed the wrong valve and during the course of the evening - managed to dump ALL of the fresh water we had overboard. Aarrgh! All 90 gallons. The good news is that I didn’t break anything. The bad news is that we had to use the few bottles of clean water we keep for emergencies to make coffee and brush our teeth. Maybe I should just stick with taking care of the head. I think I can manage that equipment. Just call me “Poop Girl”…
Tropical Storm Colin has been moving around the GOM so we’ve been keeping an eye on the weather and trying to stay out of it’s way. We sailed from Pensacola and did another long hop and arrived in Port Eads, LA to tuck into their marina for fuel, to fill up our water tank, and rest. I actually saw an alligator swimming across the marina but didn’t have the camera ready. Loved this place! They treated us like visiting relatives and made us comfortable immediately (kept calling me Miss Karen and bringing me iced tea). There are no roads leading here so the staff (mostly college kids) is brought in by boat and stay for a month at a time - pretty remote. It is a fish “camp” and you can rent a slip for your boat, or a bed for the night - or both! No phone signal, but they had wifi!
We stayed for one night and then pushed offshore again to Grand Isle for our next stop and anchorage. During the night the boat rocked and bucked around quite a bit. We recorded 50 mph winds! TS Colin was making his presence known. The storm made landfall east of us in Florida. Next morning, we headed out and sailed to Cat Island Pass and started to make our way up to the ICW. We figured it would be more protected from winds, plus we would be able to get fuel/water/supplies if we needed them.
I love coming to Louisiana. Maybe it’s because we have personal/family history here. Maybe it’s the bayous, most definitely it’s the people. Whatever the reason, I always enjoy my time here. I took lots of photos from the back of the boat - of shrimp boats, oil platforms, sunsets, birds, mossy trees, alligators, mounds of floating hyacinth in the bayous, whatever caught my eye. During one section at DuLac, we had to call the bastille bridge ahead of us to ask for permission to cross. The radio operator answered and said to call him when we got closer. “Call when you get to the rich man’s camp”. Not quite sure what that was, we thought we had misunderstood and he said “Richmond” or something - so we watched the bank. The fish camps we had seen were normally shacks or old houses on the water edge. Just a place to go fishing. When we rounded the last bend, we saw what he meant. There were luxurious little cabins build on stilts, with concrete bulkheads, landscaping, and underwater lighting. (Kind of like Tiki Island?) Most definitely a rich man’s fishing camp. Later on when we heard a tug boat skipper on the radio saying he was just passing the “rich man’s house”, we knew exactly what he was talking about!
We spent an evening in Houma, enjoyed a quick visit with an old friend and made a stop at the Fluff & Fold laundry mat (we were starting to become slightly ashamed of ourselves…). Ron had used our satellite tracker to pull up a weather report and saw that it was clear on this side of the GOM. Light winds with small seas. Time to go home. Our last last stop in Louisiana would be going through the lock on the Fresh Water Bayou before heading back into the Gulf. We had decided to do one more long jump (133 nm) and get ourselves to Texas. Another overnight sail, but it was an easy ride with a steady wind. We reached the Galveston jetties around lunchtime and are anchored tonight in the Galveston Yacht Basin. The wake from the Bolivar ferry is giving us a little rocking and we are ready for a rest.
I'll write more later as we plan for the next trip.
01 June 2016 | Pensacola, FL
Karen/Early evening and calm
In between Key West and the Dry Tortugas are the Marquesas Islands. The Marquesas are made up of several keys arranged in the shape of a South Seas atoll with a lagoon in the center. Pretty cool, huh? We spent one night anchored off of the beach in a nice area on the south side. Several other boats were there as well so we could see their lights in the evening. This area is a protected marine sanctuary so you are not supposed to go ashore but you can dinghy around the mangroves and have an explore.
I’ve enjoyed taking photos during this trip and I am attaching one that really touched me. We saw of several of these home-made boats left on the shore which I can only assume were made and sailed here by people coming and looking for a better place to live and raise their families. I have never considered myself to be “politically active” so I really don’t care which team you are rooting for. America has a two party system - and it works! BUT for those folks who say that they will leave the country if their candidate doesn’t win - I wish they would look at a photo like this one and try not be moved. Obviously, there are people from other countries who risk everything to come here. Because no matter how much we argue about politics, or who we elect, we are still the best place to be. Okay - I’m done with my political “moment”. Moving on…
The next morning we sailed to the Dry Tortugas to meet up with our friends, Moray and Deb on Sol Purpose. They answered our radio call as we approached and gave us directions to where they were anchored. After we rafted up we spent the evening getting caught up on each other’s adventures. While we were watching the sunset, we listened on the VHF to a call for help from a nearby dive boat. Park rangers were responding and were searching for a missing scuba diver. They searched for hours, even after the sun had set. Since all four of us are or have been scuba divers, it’s hard to listen to that conversation and not feel involved.
Next day we all went ashore to Garden Key to tour Fort Jefferson. We stopped at the ranger’s office first and visited with Mike and Dave, National Park Service Rangers - and learned that they had successfully rescued the diver and all is well.
Construction on the Fort Jefferson began in 1846 and went on for 30 years, but it was never completed. The buildings and walls are still in place, along with some of the original cannons, mortars and other equipment. The fort was never involved in any “hostilities” but was an infamous federal prison during the Civil War and for some time thereafter. The most famous inmate was Dr. Samuel Mudd, the physician convicted for complicity in the murder of President Abraham Lincoln by helping set the broken leg of John Wilkes Boothe. (Ever heard the saying “my name is mud?” Now you know where it comes from.) Dr. Mudd did actually clear his name and was pardoned after two years. He had worked to fight an epidemic of yellow fever that overwhelmed the fort in 1867. I’ll put photos on Facebook separately.
So we said goodbye to Deb and Moray (we are working on plans to hopefully meet up again later this year and maybe go to Cuba!) For now, they are heading East and we are heading West. Over the past couple of days, Ron and I have made several long hops in the boat - stopping in Sanibel, Clearwater and Port St. Joe. The hop from Clearwater to Port St. Joe was my longest yet, 180 nautical miles (40 hours). We are anchored tonight in McRee Cove in Pensacola, FL, near Pensacola Naval Air Station. Home of the Blue Angels. While I had a nap to recover from night watch, Ron enjoyed watching them practice.
Tomorrow we will move out and will head to Port Eads, LA, where we will rest and refuel before beginning the last leg of this trip to Galveston. Keep praying for fair winds and following seas, ya’ll!!