Sailing aboard Links

22 November 2016 | Vero Beach City Marina mooring field
01 November 2016 | Puerto Plato aboard Fathom Adonia Cruise Ship
01 July 2016 | Puerto Plato aboard Fatham Adonia cruise ship
26 April 2016 | Okeechobee Waterway
20 March 2016 | Cayo Costa to/from Clearwater Beach
17 February 2016 | Along the Gulf of Mexico
30 January 2016 | Boot Key Harbor
13 January 2016 | Boot Key Harbor
24 December 2015 | Vaca Key
19 December 2015 | Boot Key Harbor
08 December 2015 | Boot Key Harbor
02 December 2015 | Marathon Marina
01 December 2015 | Boot Key Harbor
27 November 2015 | Tarpon Basin at Key Largo
23 November 2015 | Tarpon Basin at Key Largo
22 November 2015 | Tarpon Basin at Key Largo
18 November 2015 | Peck Lake
13 November 2015 | Mullet Creek
07 November 2015 | San Marcos mooring field of St Augustine Municipal Marina
05 November 2015 | Free Dock on Sisters Creek in Jacksonville FL

Fall Trip to Vero Beach

22 November 2016 | Vero Beach City Marina mooring field
Jill / beautiful fall weather
We're once again enjoying the cruising lifestyle. After visiting with friends and having many good times in Turkey Creek when we returned from our cruise to the DR, we finally left the dock to start the cruising lifestyle for the fall season. We slowly made our way across the Okeechobee Waterway, enjoying the wildlife and the beautiful nature all along the way.

As always, we enjoyed our anchorages in Stuart, Peck Lake, and Faber Cove before picking up a mooring ball in Vero Beach.

We were alone on our mooring ball for several nights before AJ and Lisa rafted to us aboard s/v Susan M Jackson for a night or two. They left in the morning and by that night, Barb and Terry rafted to us aboard s/v Wanna Dance. Vero Beach is one of the only mooring fields where rafting is not only acceptable but pretty much mandatory, especially around Thanksgiving. Vero Beach is well known for their annual cruisers Thanksgiving Day dinner.

In addition to riding our bikes around the picturesque residences, parks, and along the beach, and taking bus trips across the river for various shopping in Vero Beach, we're enjoying long dinghy rides to visit with Tom and Debra on m/v Kozy Kadey. It's also been fun visiting with other cruisers that we met on previous trips or are new to us this year. Everyone we meet has been very friendly!

As always, we've taken lots of pictures during our travels so far, so we hope you enjoy looking at our photo album named "Photos from 2016 Florida" found along the right side of our blog.

Wishing our famiy and friends a very Happy Thanksgiving!!

Damajaqua Waterfalls in the Dominican Republic

01 November 2016 | Puerto Plato aboard Fathom Adonia Cruise Ship
Jill / rainy and sunny and just beautiful
After being away from our boat for 4 months in the summer, it was time to drive back and get our boat ready for cruising around Florida this winter. There were a few things on the boat that needed fixed and cleaned, but guess that's pretty typical.

Before we left home, Tim was watching for a good deal on cruises, and we were able to book a 7 day cruise out of Miami FL to the Dominican Republic aboard the Fathom Adonia cruise ship. This was the same cruise that we took in June that we enjoyed so much so we knew what to expect.

What an amazing week, in spite of the daily rain showers! On the ship, at port, and at the impact activities, it was so cool to see and hug the staff and guides and locals that we met on our earlier cruise. They're just like family! We saw so many beautiful places, volunteered at several impact activities again, got spoiled by our waiter Andrew, and met fellow travelers who have become our friends. We even rented a cab with Lori and Cathy to visit Damajaqua Waterfalls where we hiked and slid down 12 waterfalls. Oh my gosh, it was so much fun!!

With Fathom, you have the opportunity to volunteer your time alongside Dominican Republic locals in a variety of impact activities. It's as meaningful to us as it is to them! The Adonia is a smaller cruise ship, so it's easy to meet and get to know your fellow travelers during your Cohort Groups and various classes, at the pool and hot tub, at the buffet or in the dining room, or walking around the ship. Needless to say, we're looking forward to cruising with Fathom Adonia to the Dominican Republic again in the future!

Feel free to click the link along the right side to see our many photos of our Cruise to the Dominican Republic.

We're now back on our own boat and getting ready to cruise around Florida this winter. :)

Cruise to the Dominican Republic

01 July 2016 | Puerto Plato aboard Fatham Adonia cruise ship
Jill
A couple of weeks ago, we decided to drive to Florida after being away from our boat for two months. We were pleasantly surprised that (almost) everything was fine and we didn't find any mold or bugs inside the cabin. Tim installed an air conditioner in the helm window because it was hot and humid, and eventually it became quite cool and comfy in the cabin. We enjoyed the beautiful scenery while driving around LaBelle and Fort Myers and also on our dinghy rides in canals and along the Caloosahatchee River.

A week before heading to our boat, Tim checked online at “Vacations To Go” to see if there were any good deals on last minute cruises while we were in Florida. One cruise sounded very interesting and the rate was very affordable – a 7 day cruise for $249 for a cabin with a balcony that was sailing out of Miami FL to Puerto Plato in the Dominican Republic. Fathom Adonia sailing to the DR is a cruise with the purpose of volunteering and working alongside locals. What an unusual concept! After a little research, we decided to book the cruise. It was one of our best decisions!!

On June 19th, we drove from our boat to Miami FL and boarded Fathom Adonia cruise ship. The cruise ship is smaller than other cruise ships, with the capacity of only 700 passengers compared to larger cruise ships with a capacity of around 3500 passengers. We really enjoyed the smaller cruise ship, because we got to know the other travelers while walking around the ship, listening to music, at mealtime, at the various workshops, and at the impact activities. There was a nice variety of entertainment and activities and lots of food on the cruise ship. The first night we watched the movie “The Old Man and the Sea” in the lounge, another night we watched the movie “Casablanca” under the stars while relaxing on the lounge chairs by the pool, and another night we had fun painting at the Wine & Paint Night. Neither of us are painters, but it was pretty interesting how the instructors took us from a blank board to a colorful Dominican Republican woman.

During the daytime when we weren't eating or in the hot tub or pool, we attended workshops on Spanish phrases, Being a Fathom traveler, Getting to know the Dominican Republic, and Dominican Survival. We were docked for 3+ days in beautiful Amber Cove with a nice pool, water slides, and a variety of shops. Each morning we went on our impact activities – Tim helped with pouring concrete floors in three homes and planting mangroves along the river, while Jill learned the process of planting cacao beans and making chocolate and also the process of recycling and making paper, jewelry and crafts. Tim's work was a bit more physical, but we were both happy with our activities. We enjoyed our activities so much that we signed up to do Reforestation and Nursery together on our last day in port. Not only did we enjoy volunteering our time and meeting so many wonderful people, we also got to see the beautiful scenery and countryside during our bus rides to our activities.

On our next trip, we'll probably sign up for activities that interact with children and we'll both sign up for Concrete Floors. We were a little concerned before our trip since we don't know many Spanish words or phrases, but there were interpreters at all impact activities and some of the locals could speak a little English. Their warmth and appreciation and hugs really didn't require spoken words. This experience was amazing and we're looking forward to the opportunity to cruise with Fathom again!

As you can imagine, we took lots of pictures. Fortunately for you, we only uploaded 68 of our 400+ pictures. The photo albums from our cruise and also from our trip to Florida in June can be found on the right side of our blog. Hope you enjoy looking at the photos as much as we enjoyed taking the photos during our trips!

Another memorable winter in Florida

26 April 2016 | Okeechobee Waterway
Jill
A lot has happened since my last post in mid March, including leaving our boat in Florida for the summer rather than sailing back to the Chesapeake Bay. The photo on the left was taken in Cayo Costa at sunset and the photos on the right show the picturesque setting where s/v Links will be spending the summer.

Back to mid March. As always, we enjoyed our time at Cayo Costa walking along the beach and on nature trails, exploring the area by dinghy, and meeting other cruisers in the anchorage. During low tide one afternoon, a couple of sailboats got stuck in shallow water. It was heart warming to watch other boaters that were anchored nearby jump in their dinghies and help pull, drag, swing, or whatever was necessary to help the sailboats navigate back into deeper water. As we prepared to leave the anchorage the following morning, Joe and Carol on s/v Toby Too dinghied over to say goodbye and asked for our contact info so they could send us the photo of s/v Links that they took at sunset. We just love the friendly boating community!

After leaving Cayo Costa, we enjoyed a great sail on Pine Island Sound. Love when we can turn off the motor and enjoy the peace and quiet of pure sailing! It was especially nice as we watched dolphins swim alongside our boat and at our bow while under sail. We even saw a dolphin jump totally out of the water in a power boaters wake. Awesome!!

It was time to leave the gulf coast and enter the Okeechobee waterway. Our favorite anchorage was Bimini Basin in Cape Coral, where we rafted with s/v SeaQuest for over a week. The basin was very protected, and you could walk or bike to a wonderful variety of stores and restaurants and even a few parks. As we rode our bikes thru neighborhoods, it was pretty cool to see burrowing owls standing next to holes they dug in the ground or on perches that were made by the town. They're cute little owls!

We've been wanting to stop at JN Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge on Sanibel Island for several years, so when the weather was favorable, we motor sailed back to the gulf and over to Sanibel Island. However, we really couldn't walk around the park, so we won't be going back there again. We did enjoy our dinghy ride in Tarpon Bay and thru the bayous and mangroves, and once in a while we even saw manatees surface during our dinghy ride, so it was worth the trip.

We spent a few more fun days in Cape Coral with Bud and Jen, which included a few trips to Backstreet, Dek, and Dixie Roadhouse for country line dancing. We also had some really good times with John and Beth who live nearby, and with Lou and Anne who were staying on their boat at a nearby marina. We all had so much fun together!!

It was a sad morning when Tim and I moved on to Fort Myers while Bud and Jen stayed in Bimini Basin. However, we had a nice visit with Jim and Deb who drove over to Fort Myers on the day before they left for the Bahamas on their Gemini. Another friend named Jim also visited and took us for a nice drive around the area. It was really nice to visit with friends all along our trip!

From Fort Myers, we had 3 bridge openings and 1 lock before arriving in LaBelle. The town offers docks with water and electric, all for free for up to 3 days. What a special treat for cruisers! Since we planned to keep our boat in Florida for the summer, LaBelle was the perfect place to wash, wax, and clean our boat. The next day we had 1 bridge opening and 1 more lock before entering a canal on Turkey Creek, where we'll be keeping our boat for the summer.

It's amazing how much stuff we unloaded from the boat to bring back home. Normally we make several trips from the boat to our house, but this year we could only make one trip and it all needed to fit in our car. After almost a week with boat prep, getting back together with Bud and Jen, and going along with April and Dean to Marathon to pick up our car, it was time to pack up and drive back home.

On our last night together, John and Beth met Bud, Jen, Tim and me at the Log Cabin in LaBelle for a delicious barbeque dinner with great friends. We ended the evening with the four of us playing our final Carroka card game for the trip. Needless to say, there were plenty of tears shed the next morning as we hugged goodbye and drove away. On our way home, we spent the afternoon and evening with Bill and Laurie, who just bought a home in Florida. We arrived home the following night after spending over six months on our boat. We just returned home from visiting with our families in PA and being welcomed back home by some of our good friends.

It was an absolutely wonderful winter in Florida spent with some amazing friends and making many wonderful memories!! This summer will be a little different since we won't have our sailboat on the Chesapeake Bay, but we're looking forward to a new chapter in our lives!

Love the Gulf Coast of Florida

20 March 2016 | Cayo Costa to/from Clearwater Beach
Jill / sunny and calm morning on Pelican Bay
It's hard to believe it's been a month since we were anchored in Pelican Bay at Cayo Costa State Park. Cayo Costa is one of the largest unspoiled barrier islands in Florida along the gulf coast at the northern end of Pine Island Sound and can only be accessed by boat. Locals and tourists enjoy the protected bay and sand spit in addition to the sandy beach along the gulf with hiking trails and primitive campsites and rustic cabins on the island. We enjoyed a wonderful dinghy ride thru the mangroves in the Tunnel of Love that was scenic and very cool! There are so many reasons why Cayo Costa is one of our favorite anchorages!

A month ago, we traveled north along the gulf coast and explored lots of new places with each stop having its own special flair and charm. When we left Cayo Costa, it was a pretty bumpy ride across Charlotte Harbor with wind and seas on our beam (side), but watching dolphins, raising our sails, and seeing car ferries cross the ICW between the boats, we forgot all about how yucky it was earlier in the day.

The places we visited included Englewood Beach, Sarasota, St. Petersburg, Gulfport, Madiera Beach, Clearwater Beach (the farthest north that we traveled along the gulf coast), Longboat Key, Sarasota, Englewood, Cape Haze, and back to Cayo Costa.

We enjoyed a great sail across Tampa Bay and under the Sunshine Skyway Bridge on our trip north, and had a great sail on the Gulf of Mexico and across Tampa Bay on our trip south. Our sails were raised other days, but these were the longest days of pure sailing.

The dolphins always capture our hearts whenever we see them jumping and swimming, especially when they swim near our boat and at our bow. Truly awesome to watch! One morning we watched a raccoon walking along the beach looking for breakfast. It's also exciting to watch pelicans, cormorants, ibis, and all the other beautiful birds as they float in the water or fly overhead.

Some of our special times were when we got together with friends. It was great to visit with Ron and Marilyn in Sarasota, Mike and Cindy in Gulfport, Rich and Sheila and Greg and Suzanne on Longboat Key, and Bill and Linda in Sarasota.

One of the cool things about cruising to different places is seeing familiar boats along the way and at our various anchorages – most often s/v Last Waltz and m/v Dubhe. We started seeing Bob and Monique on s/v Last Waltz in the Ten Thousand Islands and since then we've all become good friends and shared lots of good times on each others boats.

As you know, we've been traveling with a buddy boat, s/v SeaQuest, which is a boat identical to our boat. We're now commonly known as “the Gemini Twins” to other boaters, which is pretty funny. Needless to say, we have the best times with Bud and Jen! Tim and Bud get their captain heads together to discuss our travel plans and anchorages, and first mates Jen and I happily accept their decisions (well, most times). During the day, we mostly do our own things – Bud and Jen like to fish and Tim and I like to walk along the beach - and we all like to explore the areas by dinghy. Almost every evening we get together for dinner and games and there's always lots of food and laughter and good times. Bud and Jen are truly the best boat buddies ever and they're the “salt of the earth”. We'll miss them so much when we go our separate way, but fortunately that's not for another couple of weeks.

It's been fun gathering sea shells and sharks teeth at the various beaches and making pine needle baskets, a craft that we learned in Marathon. We never get tired of looking at the incredible beauty all around us! There are lots of pictures in the web album, so click on the link in the panel to the right to see pictures of our fun trip.

Well, the sun has risen so it's soon time to go exploring thru the mangroves in our dinghy and walk along the nature trails at Cayo Costa State Park.

Southwest Florida

17 February 2016 | Along the Gulf of Mexico
Jill / beautiful sunny morning
As much as we enjoyed our time in Marathon with good friends and the Boot Key Harbor community, it was nice to travel again, especially along the uninhabited, primitive and scenic islands along the Everglades National Park and the Ten Thousand Islands. We weren't crazy about the army of mosquitoes that swarmed our boats from dusk to dawn, but we enjoyed seeing pink flamingos perched in the mangroves. It's always exciting to watch pods of dolphins jump and swim, especially when two or more dolphins swim at our bow between our hulls as we travel along the water. Awesome!

We were blessed with perfect weather to enjoy some great sailing, wonderful anchorages, and incredibly gorgeous scenery along the Ten Thousand Islands. Some of our most memorable days were at anchor near New Turkey Key and Panther Key, where we were surrounded by islands and mangroves. It was great to explore the area by dinghy and walk along the sandy beaches looking for beautiful seashells. One day we enjoyed a picnic on the beach with fresh catfish and hot dogs cooked in a fire pit that Bud built in the sand. That evening we wondered if the day could get any better. Just then, three dolphins jumped out of the water multiple times and put on a show for us as they sped past our boat. Wow, best day ever!

Our next anchorage was in Smokehouse Bay to visit Marco Island, followed by mooring fields in Naples and Fort Myers Beach, staying four days in each port. It was great to visit each area by walking, biking, or exploring by dinghy. There are some exquisite homes and shops in Marco Island and Naples along with beautiful parks and beaches.

While we were in Fort Myers Beach, several friends of Bud and Jen came for a visit. Jack and Irene arrived on m/v Coconuts and Danny arrived by car. On Saturday we beached our 3 dinghies at Bowditch Point Park and enjoyed a relaxing picnic lunch on the sandy beach. On Sunday Tim and I enjoyed a nice walk on a nature trail after church and a chinese lunch buffet. In the evening we all watched the sunset from Jack and Irene's boat that was docked near our mooring balls. What a great weekend!

Yesterday we enjoyed a very pleasant sail on Pine Island Sound before rafting to s/v SeaQuest with Bud and Jen in Pelican Bay at Cayo Costa State Park, one of our favorite anchorages. In the afternoon, Jack and Irene arrived on m/v Cat Burglar, their speed boat, who also rafted to s/v SeaQuest for a couple of hours. What a great day!
Vessel Name: Links
Vessel Make/Model: Gemini 105Mc, Sailing Catamaran
Hailing Port: Taylors Island MD
Crew: Tim and Jill
About: We enjoy sailing and cruising around the Chesapeake Bay and the Delmarva Peninsula on our sailing vessel named Links. Every other year we become snowbirds and spend winters in Florida. We visit wonderful places and meet friendly people everywhere we travel. Life is good!
Extra: It's as much about the journey as it is the destination!
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Links's Photos -

Profile for S/V Links

Who: Tim and Jill
Port: Taylors Island MD