17/12/2009/9:18 pm, crew in Halifax, NS / boat in Fernandina Beach FL
I'm happy to report that at last inspection on Wednesday we had a functioning freezer! Steve and Jim finished putting it all together late on Wednesday and by the time we left the boat Wednesday evening, we had some cold happening in that box.
I busied myself roasting spiced almonds and making fudge to deliver to cruising friends in the area, tried to get some good pictures of the pelicans on the fish dock, and managed to get most of our things packed to fly home. Those pelicans are so picturesque but I keep missing the best shots. When I came out of the washroom in the morning, there were three lined up with perfect silhouettes on the rail, but I was carrying towels and shower bag instead of a camera. We've seen them hitching rides on the fishing boats as they go in and out of the harbour, but by the time I run for my camera, the boat has always moved too far away. I saw a boat yesterday with a pelican perched on the outboard motor as it put-putted along!
Steve, Sandi, Jim and I all got ourselves cleaned up and went out to dinner at Bonito's on Centre Street for superb seafood. We hadn't been there before, but it is on our must -go list from here on. The tuna, scallops, kobe steak with half a lobster and grouper that we each tucked into were perfectly prepared and beautifully presented. Our shared starters of oysters and calamari were also right up there with the best we've had. (Blair and Mary -we SO wish you were there too!!)
Sandra and Steve got up at 3:30 am to drive us to the Jacksonville airport on Thursday morning ( now that's friendship!), and by noon hour, Mary Beth was picking us up in Halifax. The flights connected like clockwork and luggage came too, but the switch to cold weather was dramatic. We were enjoying humid weather in shorts and sandals on Tuesday. Wednesday was cooler but I was still in capri's and sandals. On Thursday, Halifax was experiencing the coldest day so far this winter -13 C (about 9 F!!) and with the wind chill it felt even colder.
Nonetheless, we are both delighted to be home for the holidays and are looking forward to enjoying the company of our family. Our boys fly in from Ottawa on Christmas Eve so we'll all be together here, while Madcap sits safely in Fernandina Beach. Once we get back there on Dec 30th, we'll reprovision, celebrate New Year and make our way further south. Who knows where - although Bahamas are the next goal - and who knows when - although soon is the preferred time!
In the cruising world as in the rest of life - it really is the journey, and not the destination that matters. Our journey is rewarding, exciting, challenging and worth every bit of effort, time and money we put into it. We keep being reminded that "smooth", "as planned", "without incident" are not necessarily the best ways to experience what life has to offer!
16/12/2009/9:03 pm, Fernandina Beach, FL
What a wonderful evening we had on Tuesday.
In the afternoon, Jim washed the boat down - and got rid of some of the Charleston bird poop - while I went Christmas shopping. He then did the hunter-gatherer thing and brought home a filet of mahi mahi. I have to tell on him - he bought it at the fish market right beside the marina - but he still brought home the fish! I coated it with panko bread crumbs and pan fried it, roasted the sweet potatoes I had left from the Oriental farmers market, added a handful of cherry tomatoes and poured a nice chardonnay. Wonderful dinner from sea and garden. What a difference fresh makes. Those sweet potatoes (sprinkled with chipotle chili powder) were candy sweet and spicy. The fish was tender and moist. Oh - so simple, and oh- so good.
I missed out on going to an art class with Tina because I forgot that it was tonight, but we made up for it by wandering up Centre St to find the Christmas Jazz Jam at Indigo Alley. There is nothing quite like live music - whether it is a formal concert of beautiful work or just a gathering of folks who love to make music. We walked in, got a couple of drinks and found places - first against a wall and then on chairs - to sip and listen. There is a thriving jazz and rock community here and we were thrilled to hear some very good jazz with carol singing in the pauses between sets. I was a happy woman - a chance to sing and an opportunity to listen to fine jazz and mingle with the local folks. We chatted with several people and enjoyed their warmth and enthusiasm - although when one rock band member told me she is an expectant grandmother and she is 15 years younger than me, I felt positively old! There were young people - including children in strollers - and old folks and a bunch in between. They mostly seemed to know each other and we learned that many of them play in random groups, meeting up at Indigo Alley on alternate Thursdays. They were so warm and friendly it felt good to be there. (In my next life, I want to play an instrument and be one of those folks taking turns on drums and bass and guitars and saxophone and keyboard - playing for the joy of it. For now, I'll listen and appreciate them!)
15/12/2009/2:17 pm, Fernandina Beach, FL
After a pleasant drive back from Ocala to Fernandina Beach on Sunday, we've been doing a combination of work and play.
We managed to get new flights home for Christmas (Dec 17 to 30), from Jacksonville since we didn't quite make it to Nassau - so much for optimistic planning! I think another time, I'd make reservations from Fort Lauderdale, since it is easy to get to from the Bahamas and other Florida points. We initially booked so early to take advantage of a West Jet seat sale, but with all our delays, it became an impossible arrangement. It would cost us more to make changes than to cancel those tickets, save the credit for another flight somewhere, and book new ones on United Airlines so that's what we did. West Jet very kindly waived the cancellation fee. I like that airline!
Our condensing unit and freezer box arrived on Monday and Jim and Steve spent several hours removing the old part and installing the new ones. That turned out to be somewhat of an exercise in frustration because despite Jim's and my careful measurements and calculations, we didn't order a long enough tube to run from the unit in the cockpit lazarette to the freezer. So, now we wait for an extension to come by UPS on Wednesday. We were both just sick about it, but it was the result of not understanding just where the line had to run in the new set up (farther than in the old one) and trying hard not to order so much that it had to be all coiled up in the locker. The lesson from that - overestimate, and coil! Steve has been working upside down in our fridge (like many boat models, it is a top loader), and has crunched himself down in the locker to work sideways there. That man deserves a dozen medals. He has done this before, knows what he's doing, and keeps doing it for his friends. Pretty nice!
I've been browsing through the lovely shops along Center Street here, checking out consignment stores and department stores with Sandi. Jim and I both got haircuts - mine at the very convenient and very pleasant Aveda salon half a block from the marina; Jim's at an old fashioned barbershop where he got shorn of most of his hair and had to listen to racist jokes from a man with sharp scissors in his hand and the ability to shear him even more. We've attempted to do some cleaning and tidying of Madcap but it seems to be a losing battle till we have the tool boxes put away and the fridge contents stowed again. We are also currently tripping over purchases made on a wine buying trip to Harris Teeter with Steve. He pointed and we paid! The experience appeared to make us all happy and although our pockets were lighter, they were less so than they'd have been without his advice, and if we were shopping somewhere other than Florida where wine prices are excellent.
Jim has spent many hours trying to get our TracFone working again. After the first few days, the original phone refused to work unless we entered a password that we didn't have. Jim returned that to K-Mart, received a replacement and got our useable minutes restored. The new phone worked for another few days before it told us that it was not in service. We think we are back on "trac" with TracFone, but so far, Jim has spent far more time on service problems than talking on it!
The "Food Report" includes dockside drinks with Karin and Ed "Passages", dinner at Pablo's, a really good Mexican restaurant here where we tried to cheer ourselves up over the fridge affair, lunch with Ken and Connie at T-Ray's - the local diner at the Exxon station on 8th St. where the sign says, "Eat Here and Get Gas." My shrimp was excellent and the burgers got good reviews as well. We have continued to enjoy the comfy bed and fine dining at Steve and Sandra's on a regular basis, and on Sunday night, enjoyed a lovely stroll under spanish moss laden trees and glimpses of starry sky to the view the lights of the Amelia Island Plantation.
Despite our continuing tale of boat woes, we are so very lucky to be among friends in a warm climate, anticipating Christmas with our family.