Our Blue Skies Adventure

23 April 2016 | Great Stirrup Cay
10 April 2016 | Crandon Park Marina Mooring Field
30 March 2015 | Marathon Key & Bahia Honda State Park
22 March 2015 | Boot Key Harbor & Sombrero Key Lighthouse
21 March 2015 | Key West to Boca Grande Key & back
21 February 2015 | Stock Island Marina, Key West, FL
27 January 2015 | Loggerhead Keys, Dry Tortugas National Park
06 December 2014 | Isle of Capri Marina, FL
14 April 2014 | Gulfport, FL
07 April 2014 | St. Petersburg, FL
29 March 2014 | St. Petersburg, FL
29 March 2014 | St. Petersburg, FL
17 March 2014 | Florida Keys
07 February 2014 | St. Petersburg, FL
04 February 2014 | DeSoto Point, Manatee River, Florida
15 January 2014 | Around Tampa Bay
08 December 2013 | Tampa Bay Waters
26 November 2013 | St. Petersburg, FL
27 October 2013 | Dry Tortugas National Park
19 October 2013 | Passing Punta Blanca Island

A Berry, Berry good time

23 April 2016 | Great Stirrup Cay
Sunny and BlueSkies
After crossing the Great Bahama Bank, we anchored at Chub Cay in the Berry Islands on Saturday. The wind decided to blow from the north and churn up the sea. We decided to wait it out at Chub. Not much to see. They are building a nice resort (not open yet). The little beach is nice, the marina is nice, the restaurant is nice, but not a lot to do.

Not wishing to be slackers, we decided to do some boat maintenance. Our windlass (that’s the electric motor that hauls up the anchor) took a holiday as we were crossing the bank, so we have been raising and lowering the anchor by hand for a few days. Not tragic, but not fun either. So Jim took apart the electric motor and fixed it. Except he also broke a seal and leaked gear oil all over the deck. No problem – we just took the dinghy in to the marina to buy replacement oil and were told – No gear oil. We went to the island store – No gear oil. We asked at the fuel dock – they laughed and said – No gear oil.

Monday, we took the dinghy up the “river” that divides Chub from its neighbor. Not much in the river but on the way back there were a couple dozen spotted eagle rays in the water flying around. Way cool.

We met some nice people (Mike and Carrie) from Florida and had sunset cocktail hour with them three days. Deb has still not seen the green flash.

When the weather cleared on Wednesday, we headed to Devil’s Cay. As we approached, the seas were beginning to be rough and we decided we didn’t like the harbor entrance, so we went to the next cay to the north – White Cay. We anchored in a cove with a pristine white sand beach in front of us and another (on Hoffman Cay) behind us. There was a bit of current, but mostly protected. The forecast said we would be stuck there until Friday, not a bad place to be.

Thursday, we explored with the dinghy. First, we went down to the Devil’s Cay anchorage and talked to some people (on a boat named “Assisted Living”) who damaged their prop in the entrance we avoided. Whew! Then we went to Hoffman Cay beach and trudged up the hill through the mangroves to try to find the blue hole. We found a brackish lake and many, many thorny vines.

Two bleeding explorers returned to the beach and took the dinghy to the White Cay beach. Nice sandy paths up the hills to the ocean overlooks. Really awesome views.

Friday was the day we were supposed to leave, but the weather had other ideas. So we stayed. Deb swam to the White Cay beach and walked around. Jim read a book and watched the turtles around the boat just out of camera range.

Saturday, we pulled up the anchor (literally, remember - No gear oil) and went to Sugar Beach on Great Stirrup Cay. Another great looking white sand beach. We took the dinghy in to the beach and walked to the marina on the other side of the island.

We checked on our friends’ boat in the marina (the boat is there, they are not). The marina told us – No gear oil. The little shop at the marina – No gear oil. The grocery / general store at the marina – No gear oil.

So, we walked to town. Or halfway. A British fellow picked us up and drove us the rest of the way. He suggested the local hardware store. We went there – GEAR OIL! We had a nice lunch, picked up some fruit punch at the grocery store and started to walk back to the dinghy. We went a little way and were picked up by a local guy who gave us a ride the rest of the way.

When we got to the dinghy, it wouldn’t start. That’s when we discovered that vandals (hooligans, etc.) had stolen our gas and replaced it with seawater.

We rowed to the boat. We drained the water, cleaned the engine and the fuel tank, refilled the tank and everything seems fine. The gear oil went into the windlass and it works. The sun just went down and it is time to get ready to cross to the Great Abaco Island early tomorrow m

Waiting for a weather window, again!

10 April 2016 | Crandon Park Marina Mooring Field
Deb & Jim / Sunny with winds up to 20kts
Mark Twain famously said, “Everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything!” Cruisers talk about, study, marvel at, research and complain about the weather. It has taken 3 years but we understand why.

We are currently at Crandon Park Marina in Key Biscayne. As we sit today, the Miami skyline is about 5 nautical miles from port and Key Biscayne is within swimming distance from starboard. We have been floating here waiting for a weather window to cross the Gulf Stream to the Bahamas for 7 days.

Every morning we wake up and check the weather to find the weather window, every evening we do the same to see if the “window” is still open.

Last Monday it looked like there would be a window on Friday, multiple sources confirmed it. By Wednesday that window closed. On Thursday a weather window was forming allowing a crossing on Tuesday, again, multiple sources confirmed it.


The key number is the 9 feet in the Gulf Stream. The boat can take it – we can’t. So, we wait. It is looking like Wednesday but Tuesday is still a possibility.

That’s the story of our season. We had one day in January with calm seas allowing us to get from Isle of Capri (Naples, FL) to Key West. We worked, traveled for business, traveled home, traveled to Cabo San Lucas with friends Chris and Amy, and basically sat on the dock for 2 months due to high winds and small craft advisories. We know Key West well! Highlights included spending the day as tourists with Mary & Bob (Deb’s sister & brother in law), and enjoying dock time & Amigos Tacos with cruising friends Jan & David and Sheri & Kenny.

On March 2nd we enjoyed a 3-day weather window as we headed from Key West to Marathon before the big blow came in bring with it 15 – 25kt winds for 6 days.

At Marathon, niece Lexi and Deb’s parents came aboard for 3 days of wind followed by 3 days of good sailing winds (unfortunately with waves at our beam making it a bit rocky aboard) than 2 days of dead calm. We took that window and moved from Marathon to the Miami area. We stayed at Long Key & Rodriguez Key in transit before arriving at No Name Harbor on Key Biscayne where we enjoyed the beautiful beach.

Beth joined at Dinner Key Marina (in Coconut Grove on Biscayne Bay) to relax for a long weekend and “enjoy” our final ride in our old dinghy. I’m sure she will remember the ride … the water taxi picked us up from our mooring ball to head into the marina for showers. Our plan was to take the water taxi back, however, it was cancelled due to winds > 15 knots and 3-4’ seas in the bay so, we called Jim who put the dinghy in the water and came ashore. We had a wild time, laughed a lot, and were completely covered with salt water as waves were breaking over the top of the dinghy. A ride to remember!

The highlight of March was the arrival of the grandkids (and their parents). It’s always fun with the kids aboard and our days go like this – wake up early, wake up grandpa, eat breakfast, pack lunch, go to the beach where Emma never leaves the water, Brady never stops running, Nolan never stops digging, and the rest of us swim, dig & play, eat lunch, swim, play, dinghy back to the boat, watch The Little Mermaid, play cards, eat dinner, read books, go to sleep. One day we skipped the beach and went to the water park!

Now we wait, and, while waiting, Jim’s re-doing the interior varnish. The forward cabin walls & floor are done, the aft cabin floor has the first coat of varnish, the main cabin floor and refrigerator walls are today. The varnishing will stop when the weather window opens. Our next posting will be from the Bahamas unless one of our guests happens to write their blog entry … we’re waiting!

Sand Everywhere ...

30 March 2015 | Marathon Key & Bahia Honda State Park
Kristin, Joe, Emma, Nolan & Brady
Spring break was finally here! Emma, Nolan, and I were excited to take another trip to the boat where as Brady and Joe were excited to see what it was all about for the first time. We were excited to go to Marathon, Florida this year to visit the boat.

Our journey started with a plane ride where all of the kids were very excited to see Regulars. Due to the excitement no one napped on the plane ride down, after about 3 hours on the plane Brady and Nolan were ready to get off, but they all hung in there. We then had a 2.5 hour drive to Sombrero Beach, luckily all of the kids napped and were ready to play at the beach until the sun went down.

Playing at the beach until the sun went down happened every single night and was one on the highlights of everyones trip to the boat. The night ended with a dinghy ride to the boat. All of the kids love the Dinghy rides, but no one was more excited than Nolan. He is in love with the Dinghy. We headed back to the boat to watch Mary Poppins and then it was off to bed for the night to get ready for an exciting week in Florida.

The week was filled with trips to the beach, playing at the park, dinghy rides, a trip to a pool with fun water slides, a boat ride to Bahia Honda State park, ice cream, a birthday celebration for Nolan and Emma, and lots of quality time enjoying each others company in the beautiful weather (while it snowed at home).

A few of our favorite things:

Joe: Loved the beach at Bahia Honda State park and really enjoyed watching the kids have so much fun

Kristin: Loved floating in the waves enjoying the weather and watching the kids swim and run at the beach

Brady: Loved that the plane went fast, digging in the sand at the beach, swimming in the floaties at the beach, and dinghy rides

Nolan: Loved dinghy rides to and from the beach, digging in the sand, swimming at the beach, running at the beach, and going to the pool where he got lots of water on his head

Emma (in her own words): I love that the plan gos fast befor it flys. I love the bot in the water. I love my bed in the bot. My bed is big. I love pools. I love the brown slid at the pool. l love the crvee slid at the pool. I love the beech. The beech is fun. I love siting in the wavs in the watre with grandma. The beech is big. I love the beech.

The time went by way too fast and we are all really excited to visit again next year.

Thanks for having us on the boat.

Kristin, Joe, Emma, Nolan, & Brady 4

Annual adventure aboard Blue Skies

22 March 2015 | Boot Key Harbor & Sombrero Key Lighthouse
Sue and Nancy
We arrived after a 2 1/2 hour drive down route 1 from Miami. GPS took us to the wrong address so we stood around for a while till Deb called and we discovered the mistake. They were in a much better spot so we were happy to arrive at Boot Key Harbor in Marathon. Jim and Deb sailed up from Key West to meet us since the winds were bad, i.e. no winds. They loaded us and too much luggage in the dinghy to motor out to Blue Skies. Once on board we quickly settled in and stowed our gear. It was warm, sunny, calm waters and immediately relaxing. Chef Jim prepared a scrumptious dinner, we watched the sunset and went to bed, still a bit jet lagged.

Unfortunately Wednesday was not a pretty day for Sue who caught some kind of bug and was face down in her bunk for the next 24 hours. We will spare you the details. Nancy did cousin Nancy’s taxes, Deb and Jim worked and we stayed moored for the day. At Boot Key Harbor there is a public marina with 226 mooring balls. Low key afternoon punctuated by Deb going out on her paddle board in the afternoon. Nancy was not ready to try it yet, blamed it on jet lag.

Thursday we stayed moored again, but were glad to see Sue emerge from below deck. Nancy and Jim drove down to Key West to get Deb and Jim’s car. They decided to spend the next month in Marathon instead of Key West. There are more day trip locations, paddle boarding is good and it is closer to Miami for all the next visitors coming in. Sue and Deb sat and chatted between Deb’s work calls and watched dolphins swim by. We are beginning to notice the changes since last year, new electronics, a wind turbine, gas generator, paddle board, water filter, solar panels and a new spinnaker, which we did not see. Grilled chicken dinner, another pretty sunset and an early evening to bed.

Yea!! Friday we are on the move. We are headed to Sombrero Key Light for the opportunity to snorkel. Calm seas so we motor out the five miles. Leaving at high tide makes it easier to traverse the shallow channel out to the ocean. We found an open mooring ball and settled in for an afternoon enjoying the clear crystal blue water. Located on a submerged reef, the name goes back to the Spanish and old charts show an island on the spot. The island had since eroded away. The lighthouse was put in service in 1858 and automated in 1960 and still operates. It looks like an oil rig with its skeletal octagonal pyramid of iron jutting out of the water. It is the tallest light house in the Florida Keys.

The depth of the coral reef goes from 5-35 feet. Nancy and Deb snorkeled though Nancy did not make it to the lighthouse. Schools of colorful (yellow, blue, white and green) tropical fish, nurse sharks, and southern stingrays make their home here. Deb saw the large Barracuda who hang out at the lighthouse and a stingray. Sue watched the fish from the deck and Jim was the float at the end of the rope off the back of the boat—enjoying his time in peaceful bliss. This was Nancy’s best snorkeling so far, no one to keep up with, lots of fish, and no one’s fins in her face. Sue is still mumbling about the fact that she was too wimped out to go. Nancy thought about paddle boarding but was tired from snorkeling, and being out in the sun all day. Burgers on the grill for lunch and a leisurely trip back to the harbor highlighted by a loggerhead turtle peeking up and swimming near the surface. Another one of those sunsets, pizza for dinner, baby dolphins playing between boats and now were are startled that tomorrow is Saturday and we will be leaving.

Slow morning to pack up, visit and make plans to see Deb and Jim again on Friday when they are near Sarasota to pick up Jim’s parents. Dinghy ride to shore with all our belongings and we are on our way. Next year—Dry Tortugas National Park or bust.

Nancy and Sue

Lexi, Molly & Brynn Aboard

21 March 2015 | Key West to Boca Grande Key & back
Lexi & Molly

Saturday: After many struggles with the airlines, we finally arrived at dinner time. We went back to the boat and had homemade pizza and a key lime pie.

Sunday: We headed out to Boca Grande Key where we anchored for a few days. It was smooth sailing there with the spinaker out. It is a very cool sail. We went about 7 knots down there.

Monday: We were still anchored at Boca Grande and we went to the beach for a while. We then took the dingy with Aunt Deb and went to a creek in the middle of the island that we were able to walk through. It was amazing. The water was very shallow and we saw some sea creatures that scared us a little bit.

Tuesday: We left Boca Grande to head back to the marina. It was a pretty rough sail only going about 3 knots through 4 foot seas and 20-25 mph winds. It was very interesting, due to Aunt Deb having to take work calls. So us girls had to help tack. I was the driver and it was quite an experience. When we finally got back to the marina after about 7 hours, we went downtown to Amigos Mexican Restaurant. It was really good. We got to experience the Key West culture for the first time. And also made a trip to Ron Jon. We then went to Mallory Square and watched the pig performance. It was pretty neat. I really enjoyed it.

Wednesday: We went to Fort Zachary Taylor Beach for the day. It is a very pretty beach in the state park at the end of the island. It wasn't very crowded and was relaxing.

Thursday: We went and walked around the city of Key West. We walked from the Gulf of Mexico to the Atlantic Ocean and stopped at quite a few shops along the way to get souvenirs to bring home. We also then watched the sunset from the top and saw it over all the boats at the marina.

Friday: Our last full day in Key West was spent at Smathers Beach on the Atlantic side of the island. It has wonderful sand, imported from the Bahamas. After the beach, we went and found the buoy at the Southernmost point of the U.S. We were tourists, and took a picture by it. For dinner, we went to Hard Rock Cafe. We then had extra time, so we went to Mallory Square to watch the sunset. It is probably one of the coolest sunsets I have ever seen. There is no land or anything blocking it.

Saturday: We packed up our things and headed back to Minnesota, after a wonderful trip to Key West. It was nice to go to someplace in Florida where I don't know when I'll be back, if ever. Thanks to Aunt Deb and Uncle Jim, we had a great trip.

Thanks again!

Love, Lexi


Overall, I had an amazing time. The weather was perfect, except for it was a little too wavy to go sailing some of the days. That worked out just fine though! We were able to go walk around Key West the last three days of our trip. We went to a couple beautiful beaches and shopped around Duvall street. Key West definitely has some unique characters! We ate at a couple different restaurants, both were delicious, and tasted the famous key lime pie too. All in all, I had such a good time!

What do you do with 192 feet of half inch tubing?

21 February 2015 | Stock Island Marina, Key West, FL
BlueSkies / 72 with Clear Skies, Many Stars
Hide it ...

It took us a month but we've replaced the water lines throughout the boat. The manifold has 4 hot water lines and 6 cold water lines - to the water tank, to the hot water tank, from the water tank to the hot water tank, to sinks, to showers, to the cockpit, to the outside where the tank is filled. A 40' boat with 192' of water lines all in places no one will ever see ... and I wouldn't recommend trying it yourself unless you want bruises on top of bruises while trying to either push or pull through holes, around corners, behind walls, and under the floor.

We finished yesterday and went to bed only to hear the pump go on, and again, and again, and again until we got up with flashlights to see where it was leaking. The suspect was the hot water tank and it appeared to have rusted through. We turned off the pump and went back to bed. That's a day in the life while cruising.

It was, however, a good morning when Jim found the leak behind the water tank, whew!

Today we sanded another section of the gunwale (the top edge of the side of the boat) and will do final sand and 6 coats of varnish over the next two days while we're anchored at Boca Grande Key.

We'll have brownies Tuesday for Jim's birthday because Emma said Grandpa needed chocolate cake!
Vessel Name: BlueSkies
Vessel Make/Model: Island Packet 40
Hailing Port: St. Petersburg, FL
Crew: Jim and Deb Casurella
BlueSkies's Photos - Main
Kristin, Joe, Emma, Nolan and Brady were aboard for a week, fun!
15 Photos
Created 10 April 2016
Barb & Len (Deb's Mom & Dad) & Lexi were aboard as we headed from Marathon to Biscayne Bay.
9 Photos
Created 10 April 2016
Family and friends aboard BlueSkies!
1 Photo | 3 Sub-Albums
Created 30 March 2015
15 Photos
Created 6 December 2014
The first trip aboard for Marilyn and Joe!
7 Photos
Created 16 April 2014
Rachel, Lexi and Molly joined us for a spring break trip to the Dry Tortugas National Park.
16 Photos
Created 3 April 2014
The first trip to the boat for Emma, Nolan & Kristin. Uncle Andy was aboard as well!
20 Photos
Created 29 March 2014
A 4 day trip in Tampa was greatly altered by fog.
11 Photos
Created 4 February 2014
In and around the bay with Sue and Nancy aboard.
8 Photos
Created 19 January 2014
Thanksgiving Trip with Barb & Len/Mom & Dad, Cal & Sharon
13 Photos
Created 8 December 2013
Final boat preparation for our first overnight guests.
8 Photos
Created 30 November 2013
Our trip to the Dry Tortugas National Park. 2 days getting there, 3 days there, 3 days getting back.
12 Photos
Created 27 October 2013
BlueSkies Transformation
6 Photos
Created 19 October 2013
The interior of the boat is done!
9 Photos
Created 27 July 2013
From calm seas to blue skies as we dock her for hurricane season in Florida.
5 Photos
Created 30 June 2013
This is our first solo weekend on BlueSkies cruising our of Tampa Bay on the Florida Gulf coast.
5 Photos
Created 28 June 2013
We purchased Golden Hind on May 24, 2013 and after refurbishing she will be named Blue Skies.
8 Photos
Created 14 June 2013