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
29 December 2015 | Boot Key Harbor
21 December 2015 | Marathon City Marina, Boot Key - Marathon, FL
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!!
Slow Boat to Texas
23 May 2016 | Moving from Key West to Dry Tortugas
Karen/Sunny and calm
Today Ron and I are leaving Key West and are heading to the Marquesas Islands and the Dry Tortugas. We are planning to meet up with some friends of ours from home. They are sailing as well so we’ll try to anchor out with them near Garden Key. We hope to spend a couple of days visiting, snorkeling, and exploring Fort Jefferson. The winds are extremely light this morning so we are again motoring under sail. It’s going to be about a 60 mile hop so it will take a full day to get there.
We are beginning our trek back to Houston. Ron has crossed the Gulf of Mexico quite a few times on drilling rigs, but this would be his first by sailboat. Going across the GOM is 700 miles, 6 days at sea, passing through the loop current (twice), just the two of us. He’s excited about it. Me - not so much. Yes, I love the idea of it - the adventure of it. Being all that brave and accomplishing it. But let’s be honest… I find the actual event scary as hell. The farthest offshore I’ve sailed has been about 70 miles. You lose cel phone signals at about 4 miles from shore. We have VHF radio that transmits about 25 miles. In an emergency you hope there is someone close enough to hear you. For listening to weather reports, I have a Single Side band Radio receiver. We do have all the normal safety gear - beacons, EPIRB, life raft etc. But we will still be pretty much on our own. (Can you feel my anxiety??) So we’ve decided on a compromise (get it?). We will stay offshore, but instead of going directly across, we will take a longer route and follow the coast in several large “hops” - staying close enough in that we can come into a harbour if we need fuel or have a problem. First leg will be from the Dry Tortugas to Santibel Island, staying about 65 - 70 miles out.
I bought a new inReach tracking device at the marine store this week. It uses a satellite signal and “pings” your boat position every 10 minutes to upload on a chart that can be seen by a couple of contact people (Brian/Jennifer). You can also send and receive a limited number of emails on it. For sending emails they have pre-set ones to choose from. Some of them are pretty cheesy - like “We are leaving now”, or “I’m okay”, or “Still having fun”. Since the system offers you the ability to create a few custom messages, I’ve written a few that say “Send help now!”, or “I love you very much”, and my favorite “I’m going to kill your father”. I’m sure these will be big hits with the kids. I’ll try to link the tracker to this website, so you can see it as well.
For those of you who have never been on a rocking sailboat, I want to give you an idea of some of the preparation that goes into a crossing over rolling water. First off everything has to be secured. Every drawer, hatch, cupboard, door, bin has to be closed and locked. If it can break - make sure it is put away. Dishes in the cabinet, pots & pans, groceries, bottles, electronic devices, books, everything. If you don’t - when the boat get bounced around everything falls out and can become a hazard. Basically, if it can move - secure it. Ron has been going over all the mechanical stuff, changing oil in the engines, changing filters, rechecking safety gear, looking at wear and tear on cables, ropes, standing rigging, sails, and running gear, etc. I’m trying to plan meals for the trip - understanding that at times it might be too rough to use the stove. So sandwiches/fruit/snack bars will be an option. I’ll make some more CRAP (candy, raisins, almonds, peanuts) for the night watches.
Speaking of night watches - let’s just say it out loud. I really hate them. Someone is at the helm at all times. As Ron likes to say, “There ain’t no rest areas to pull over into when you’re tired”. So we take turns. We will plan on 4 hour watches at night - and during the day I plan on stealing cat naps whenever I can. I’ve been told that you get used to the night watches on long trips and that it gets easier. I hope that’s true!
Keep your fingers crossed for good weather. You know… fair winds and following seas!
We are back in Florida!
16 May 2016 | Marathon City Marina, Boot Key - Marathon, FL
Karen/Sunny and bright
When we arrived in the Bahamas in January we were given three month visas in our passports. Because we had let our visas expire by 8 days, the immigration officer in Marsh Harbour was not willing to renew them for another three months. She only gave us a two week extension to wrap up our trip and leave the Bahamas. And then she backdated the extension to date the visa had actually expired - which left us with only seven days to leave the country!! So we started making our exit plan. Note to anyone planning a trip like this - DON'T LET YOUR VISA EXPIRE. (It can be very unpleasant!!)
The weather had turned really calm with light winds so we decided to make a dash to get across the Florida Straights before that changed. We left Hope Town on May 5th and headed for Green Turtle Cay and spent one night there on a mooring ball in the harbour. We went ashore for our usual beer and a look around; mooched free wifi and tried to catch up with emails.
From Green Turtle, we moved to Big Sail Cay. Big Sail is uninhabited and has a small harbour that is protected from North and East winds. We arrived at around 1700hrs and by the time we anchored and settled in, I counted 10 other boats around us. The next day we moved on to West End settlement on Grand Bahama, near Freeport. We refueled there and anchored just outside of the harbour. It took me a few tries to get the anchor to set. There was a thin layer of sand over hard coral so the anchor just bounced around on my first few attempts. We finally got settled in and recognized a few of the boats anchored around us. After awhile you start to remember all the boat names. Ron found out that they all had similar plans to cross the stream and head back to the States. It was Mother's Day weekend and also Ron's birthday so we decided to treat ourselves to dinner ashore. Plus, we needed to use up our remaining Bahamian currency since this would be our last evening in the Bahamas. We enjoyed a great meal and headed back to the boat in time to see the green flash at sundown. I am taking this as a good omen for our crossing.
On Monday, we lifted anchor at 0330 hrs and headed out. We could see the lights of two other boats leaving with us. It was very easy crossing. Waves were only 1 to 2 feet, and the winds were very light. We kept the motor running - we were cutting across the Gulf Stream and the current averages about 4kts. During the night, we saw two cruise ships all lit up and a couple of cargo ships. The stars were fabulous! Our auto helm had a little trouble holding course against the current and shut off once or twice, but other than that we had no problems and arrived in Palm Beach at around 1400 hrs. In the morning, we cleared immigration and our passports are all stamped and legal.
We stayed in a slip at the Riviera Beach Municipal Marina - I felt spoiled by running the AC and actually having some TV stations to watch! Ron pulled the bikes out of the boat and we rode them around the marina and down to the supermarket. I was thrilled to see all the variety of food and cheaper prices for everything!!! We bought fresh produce to restock the galley. We even bought a few bottles of wine!! The cost for one bottle here is roughly equivalent to what they charge for a single glass in the Bahamas. And there is a laundry at this marina. Yay! Only $1.50 per load!
After checking the Waterway Guide, and asking folks in the marina, we learned that there would be a couple of bridges nearby that wouldn't be tall enough for us. So we left the marina and headed offshore for a while. At the Port Everglade Inlet we ducked back inside, motored up to City of Hollywood Marina, and anchored across from a row of restaurants. After we let the boat settle a bit and made sure everything was holding, we got all cleaned up. Ron took me out for my first dinner ashore in Florida. Yay! I picked out a place that looked nice from the water side (white tablecloths and busy crowd). So we motored the dingy over, tied off and walked to the front of the restaurant. The parking lot was full of expensive cars - we saw the valet parking a Bentley. Wow! This place would be waaay out of our budget. But hey - we had cleaned up and were looking good! Since it was happy hour, we decided to stay for a drink and then move on to a cheaper place further down the dock. It was a nice evening and a calm night at anchor. Since then, we have continued motor/sailing around southern Florida and are now back at Boot Key Harbour in Marathon. Sailing has been easy but the winds are so light that is has become seriously humid and warm. We continue to watch weather and make our plans to get back to Texas. I'll keep everyone posted.
BREAKING NEWS! THIS JUST IN!! Okay - so there's been a new development in our burglary. The iPad has been found! Seems that we had it all along and there was no break in. In the past, Compromise has been hit twice by lightening. Each time the damage was expensive, with immeasurable stress. So on the "dark and stormy night" we were experiencing a lot of thunder and lightening. Every time there was electrical activity - the stereo speakers crackled. Because of the navigation programs he has downloaded on the iPad, Ron was concerned that the lightening would damage it. So he put it in the MICROWAVE OVEN TO PROTECT IT!! AND THEN FORGOT HE PUT IT THERE!! The mystery wasn't solved until just a couple of days ago. I have only used the microwave a couple of times over the past six months - but I was hungry for baked potatoes so I hooked it up to the inverter and was getting ready to use it when I found the pad. That mystery was solved so I asked Ron about the "missing" cash and he thinks now that he miscounted what was in his wallet. What amazes me is that I believed it all so quickly! When he woke me up in a panic asking me to help look for the iPad, and then said he thought we had been robbed - I went with it and believed the whole thing! Oh, well! Thanks for all the support and well wishes on this - and our apologies for causing anyone unnecessary worry.
Keep your fingers crossed for good weather - and we'll be back in Texas soon!