04/17/2012, Green Turtle Cay, Abacos
We've had a very nice winter in the Bahamas. The weather was warm and not too many fronts to dodge. We spend most of our days in the Exumas which we have decided is the best of the Bahamas. Not too remote (but can be if you want it) and good access to the things you would typically need. We enjoyed the company of Wendy and John on 'Windermere' at Big Majors for a good part of the winter. Connie and Pete came down from Maine to visit but we were stuck (fortunately) in Emerald Bay while the strongest front of the season rolled through. And, we caught up with Carol and Jack on 'Tribute' at Hopetown. A good winter all around.
We'll be back in the states on Thursday or Friday this week and head back up the east coast. We're thinking of leaving Faring in the Chesapeake for the summer but we'll see what happens.
01/17/2012, N 25 45.517, W80 08.768
OR NOT !!!!! We hauled anchor and set sail for Key Largo (Mile 1142) on Fri., 06 Jan '12 to take on gas and diesel and taxi for provisions from Ocean Divers. The only ocean side marine facility that sells diesel. We squeaked through the access canal but had nowhere to tie-up - they only have room at the dock for their dive boats and fuel purchases. Ken rang the dock manager in hopes of finding a spot to tie-up on the canal but even though there were unoccupied mansions with dock space aplenty they weren't available to transients. Luckily Faring can turn in a tight circle because she used up most of the canal doing just that. So, we anchored west of Tavernier Key and dinghied up the Snake Creek Channel to the Tavernier Marine Center (12' clearance under the bridge nearest the marine center prohibits large boat passage). After a three mile round-trip walk to the shopping center (at least there are sidewalks on each side of the highway) we were provisioned and back on Faring. Saturday found us off early in weather not quite as described by NOAA. It wasn't long before our salon was being rearranged by the wash and chop of the fringes of the Gulf Stream. When things start flying in this boat we start reconsidering our route. So, Bonine in hand we turned to port and headed for Miami, again............
Ah yes, the beautiful colorful shoreline of South Beach Miami, Heather was in heaven. Coffee here is espresso by default. There are numerous wonderful restaurants, excellent grocery, liquor, hardware and book stores within dinghy distance. And you name it for outings, walking tours and movies. When she said the nearest quilt fabric store was over 90 miles north Ken decided it was time to go, and the weather seems to be right for a very early morning passage tomorrow.
01/02/2012, Marathon, Florida
Sunday, 1 January 2012
N 24 42.453 W81 06.244
Happy happy new year everyone - in spite of the fact that it is an election year, lets hope this year will bring peace and a brighter future to all.
Yep!!!! We're still in Florida..............Poseidon doesn't want us to breach the Gulf Stream for some reason. It's been fun though. We've met old friends and made new ones on boats queued-up in safe anchorages all along the ICW and southeastern coast of FL waiting to sail east.
We had just anchored off the waterway channel in Smyrna when Paul dinghied over and welcomed us and gave us a quick lay of the land. He's lived aboard his Morgan for seven years just at anchor off the channel. Then we motored to Titusville Municipal Marine to pick-up a mooring (you select a mooring ball and then dinghy into the dock to pay). It's touch and go motoring through the mooring field - pretty dare shallow in some places, even for us!
Next, Eau Gallie (mile 914.4) to visit Richard and Carol (Manta 42, Great Catsby) at their lovely townhouse on Satellite Island. They wined and dined us, drove us to and from a residential dock they secured for our visit and took us shopping - great, great people. We're very fortunate they call us friends, plus they have two normal (for those who have met Bantam) Papillons.
Still on our schedule to head to Staniel Cay for the holidays we pushed on to Vero Beach where we took over the mooring ball Salty Paws (Jim & Bentley on another Manta 40) had just left to find ourselves sharing the ball with yet another Manta 38 - What If'. Chris, Dean, Derek and two large elderly dogs were sailing the east coast for the first time and really enjoying themselves.
Spent the next night weathering 30 knot gusts in an anchorage near Fort Pierce. Then on to Stuart to see Dick and Nancy on Blue Bay. Spent a glorious few days at the wonderful Sunset Bay Marina. These marina folks know the meaning of top-notch. Very clean, well appointed and accommodating. Transportation daily of one type or another. Located near good restaurants and supply stores. Great town boardwalk on the water. No wonder there was a waiting list of boats, all anchored in the bay, for a slip or a mooring ball. It was hard to say good-bye to Nancy and Dick we were having such a good time, but we may see them again if we can't cross over the gulf stream!
Hung-out at the anchorage in Lake Worth, N. Palm Beach, till the gusts died down, four days, then headed to W. Palm Beach to catch-up with Jim and Bentley on Salty Paws. Heather made them an afghan for their salon. We met the crews from Dyad (known on the web as 'big dumb boat') and Monami. The eight of us ventured out to do the town on the local bus service - $4.00 a day. Right in town a trolley will take you to all the nearby provisioning stores for free. Lots of pizza and beer to be had within walking distance from the pier. Diverse, clean, attractive and walk able! The service people are friendly and helpful, too. We were all waiting out the weather to head south. Six days later, grrrrrr, we hauled anchor and motor sailed outside the waterway to South Beach Miami.
No sooner had we anchored when here comes Moonshadow Star, Brian and Sandy from our Newfoundland sail this summer. They had two other British boats follow them into the anchorage - all heading to Cuba. We really, really liked South Beach. You can dinghy up the Collins Canal and tie-up right next to the roadway near the middle of town. The grocery stores are excellent and so are the restaurants. We walked for miles towards the beach, the people watching was great. The art deco architecture is really very interesting and well preserved. Heather expected Myrna Loy to walk past her looking for Asta! Moonshadow Star, Scott-Free and Nimue were all very anxious to get underway as they had a party to go to on the 29th in Cuba. But as usual the weather was not at all accommodating. So, we spent four days enjoying the beautiful nighttime skyline of Miami and visiting each other's boats for toddies and nosh. As the weather was not cooperating at all we decided to haul anchor and sail with the wind to Key West. We all agreed if we met again in Key West we would share Christmas dinner together.
Sure enough - the weather kept us from going east so we did a quick two day sail down the Keys and met up with our new and newer acquaintances in Key West. For Xmas, we had a three course dinner, each on a different boat anchored (pretty much in the channel - crowded with boats NOT going east) in Key West harbor. A fun, fun time was had by all and new friends were made, too. Boxing day, or December 26th to us, saw Moonshadow Star, Scott-Free and Nimue off on their overnight to Cuba and Heather and Ken having a good Thai dinner at an outdoor cafe' on Key West.
With the weather still working against us we left the next day and sailed east up the keys to anchor in the sheltered (from the northerlies) waters off Big Pine Key only to find masted boats prohibited from anchoring in the channel. Great! That's what needs to be in the current, annually up-dated guide books. So, with very little water under the keel and lots of chain out we spent a fitful, sometimes sleepless, night at anchor. Needless to say it was a very long 24 hours - even the dogs got Bonine!
So, here we are in Marathon at the Marathon Boatyard & Marine Center. We had a manatee conundrum when we were about to tie-up to the wall. A mama (don't ask us how they know) manatee was heading toward the wall as well. It, of course, had right-of-way. Turns out mama was headed for the location of the fresh water hose, and she wasn't going anywhere till she got her fill. Someone familiar with this behavior happened by and lured her away from the wall so we could tie-up. Turns out there's a whole family that lives in these tight quarters and they spend much of their time searching for fresh water. Its illegal to feed or water the manatee by the way. Good thing he shared that with us or Ken would have to bail Heather out of jail for sure.
As usual for us, New Year's was a very benign event although there were plenty of fire crackers going off around us! Many of the folks who work here or nearby live on their boats tied-up along side the concrete abutment or at anchor outside the very narrow channel to the marine center.
It's not a fancy resort just a clean well maintained boatyard with all the necessary amenities and very sheltered from the winds and chop we've been seeing so much of this season. Ken was delighted to find the West Marine store 50 yards away. Public and Home Depot (which has a marine section) and so forth are one to two miles or so up the sidewalkless Overseas Hwy, but we've been offered rides by the folks that work here. And, there is always On Time Taxi that will take you four miles or so up the highway for a vet appt. or a walk-in haircut. As you can probably tell by now - we've been here a little too long.
The dogs get to walk free as the place is gated and a worker here told me they have a patch of sand at the end of the dock designated 'dog beach' because all the boatyard dogs head for the beach when their owners go to work. We're hoping for a favorable weather window the middle of this week so we can sail north and catch the next lull to cross over the gulf stream to the Bahamas.
If not, well we've seen places in Florida we would ordinarily have missed and we've met new friends and reunited with old ones so all in all its been a very eventful and pleasant journey.
11/25/2011, N29 53.527, W081 18.563
Thursday 24 Nov '11
Happy Thanksgiving everyone!
We've been here almost a week and loving every minute of our visit. Small, clean, active and interesting that's St. A's in a nutshell.
La Herencia Cafe', on Aviles, is open at 0830 for those who enjoy breakfast before 1000 or 1100 - they do take-out. You can still get your haircut at 0800 (next door to Hot Shot bakery and cafe, also open early) on Granada St. - as a walk-in no less. So while the town in waking up you're prepped and ready for the day.
Faring's crew will be hosting Tday dinner with Barbara and Verne on Spirit and Lee and Nan on Moonrise (both first time cruisers to the ICW heading south). Life is good and we are very thankful.
Saturday we'll enjoy the arts and crafts festival and Sunday we'll head south once again.
Enjoy your day!
Wednesday 9 Nov '11
Charleston Marine Center is the best, and if you get Jeff to help you'll be happy cruisers!
Carol and Heather toured the town while Jack and Ken did check list stuff. They were very interested in tagging along when it came to dinner - dessert first at Kaminski's then Sushi at the little Japanese restaurant, Shi Ki, on the way back to the boat (same strip-mall as East Bay Deli). Ken bought Heather another butterfly box in the market, this one will be mounted in such a way that it will have to be sold with the boat!
We introduced C&J to Cumberland Island (federal park once owned by T. Carnegie's wife) and hiked the dogs around the grounds to reintroduce them to trees.
Motored-sailed from there to Fernandina, while Tribute sailed to Melbourne. Fernandina is what we think of as 1930's FL, quaint brick two-story 1800's structures, some painted lovely colors, and lots of seafood, alcohol and chatty boaters. I have to recommend their laundry set-up (now, how often do you hear that!) dig this, commercial W/D (2 ea)!!!!! We were in cruiser heaven.
St. Augustine is up ahead. Can't wait cause we both need a haircut - Heather thinks she looks like Lon Chaney in Wolf Man hair, and Ken looks like Cary Grant in need of a trim.
11/25/2011, N34 13.059 W77 48.800
Saturday 5 Nov '11
Tucked in at Bridge Tender Marina for a few days to visit with Ken's dad Richard and his wife Freddie. The marina has trash receptacles, fuel/wtr and WIFI but that's about it. The restaurant is first rate however ($$$) and the Harris Teeter is within walking distance.- life is good. We departed early and caught-up with 'Tribute'. We're sailing together and plan to see the sites in Charleston next.