We're on Solar Power!! The panels were hooked up this week and are providing the house batteries with power from the Florida sun. Another step toward the freedom of the Cruising Life!
02/10/2006, Ft. Myers Beach, FL
Another step closer to "The Cruising Life". We'll become more independent of shore side luxuries. We'll save money on Marina fees to feed the Cruising Kitty. All good reasons to leave SnookBight marina and move to a mooring field buoy in Matanzas Pass. We discussed the pros and cons and made this big decision together, but Carrie moved Mo chuisle by herself in late January, almost catching the mooring buoy single handed on the first pass. The guy from the marina that manages the mooring field was impressed.
So now there are new priorities. Will the dinghy motor work reliably? The water tanks have to be replenished by our water jugs. There's no wireless internet. The engine has to run twice daily to charge the batteries until the solar panels are installed. New challenges, but we're getting closer. We're gonna make it.
So how are things after the first few weeks? Carrie continues to show her unshakable resolve to make our dream of "The Cruising Life" come true. A guy couldn't ask for a better partner to make this all happen. We are so very excited.
On the West Virginia end of things, I have a contract to sell the townhouse. I'm selling off my household goods. I'll leave my full-time consulting job and move down with the cats to Mo chuisle permanently at the end of April. There's a list of projects waiting for me, but I'm itching to get at them. Things are coming together. We're on track for the spring of 2007 to head up the east coast and then down to the Caribbean. We're gonna make it.
11/27/2005, Ft. Myers Beach, FL
As a gesture to confirm the boat as "Our Boat" we decided to rename her, a term that often strikes fear in the hearts of mariners. Folklore has it that renaming a boat is bad luck, but research (ah, the Internet) enlightens us that if properly done with both a de-naming and a re-naming ceremony, the gods of the sea thus appeased will consent to allow the newly named vessel to proceed safely through Poseidon's realm.
On subsequent nights (November 25th and 26th) we conducted said ceremonies, having purged the vessel of all items with the previous name (Circe) and appropriately introducing the new name (Mo chuisle) to the realm of the deep. "Mo chuisle" is a Gaelic term we found that means "my pulse" or loosely translated "my darling".
As part of the ceremony and in the true spirit of the ancient mariners, copious amounts of champagne were spread upon the waters of Southwest Florida with the proper atonements to both King Poseidon and the gods of the 4 winds to assure us fair winds and smooth seas in our many travels ahead. In the company of our good friends we celebrated the unveiling of the new name and hailing port of our Irwin 37, completing yet another step on our quest to cruise the open seas.
11/03/2005, South Florida
The 21st named storm and the 12th hurricane of the 2005 season. It hit south Florida pretty hard, and Carrie was right in the middle of it onboard Circe.
It was Tuesday and the storm was slated to arrive on Saturday. It was also one of those times when I was wishing I was there to help her with more than just words of encouragement over the telephone. The diesel engine water pump was still out of commission, and like the trooper she is she went straight to work and repaired it.
She conferred with the other boaters on the dock and, like last year for Hurricane Charlie, they decided to go up the Caloosahatchee River to hide out inland from the coming storm. They would travel 35 miles inland to anchor out away from the coast and the full force of the hurricane. She bought provisions and made other arrangements and on Thursday they set out for a place to hide while we watched the storm's progress on TV. Overnight it doubled in size and strength to become one of the strongest storms on record, creeping towards the Yucatan.
The caravan of 4 boats moved up the river to the town of La Belle, Florida, anchored in the stream and went ashore to find some food, relaxation and information. Luckily I was able to talk with Carrie most of the week via cell phone.
Wilma stalled out over Cancun, beating the residents and vacationing tourists with horrendous winds and almost 5 feet of rain, and delaying its scheduled arrival in south Florida by almost 2 days, to early Monday morning. The weekend was agonizing, having almost too much time to worry about preparations and rethink the anchoring, with other boats moving into the area and posing possible threats if they drug anchor.
Sunday night the whole troop decided to leave their boats and camp out together in a motel room for the storm's passing. By the time it reached land Wilma had recharged its winds up to Category 3 and sped its forward movement up to 25 mph. Luckily the group was north of the storm's path as predicted, but the winds were still enough to rip numerous trees down, knock out power, and litter the streets of La Belle with debris.
After the storm roared through they checked the boats and thankfully the anchors held. Getting to their dinghies secured in a generous resident's yard was a challenge because of downed trees, but eventually they were all recovered and launched. The boats all survived nicely and Tuesday morning everyone was underway for home.
Back at the marina they found considerable damage. As with most of the area power had been knocked out. One quarter of the two story boat shed was ripped apart, and all of the discarded oil stored there had been sprayed across the grounds. But being aboard a boat meant that they still had their own power, a nice advantage over the hundreds of local residents who depended on others for electricity.
I followed the situation closely, both on the Weather Channel and by cell phone, and agonized over my inability to be there and help out, but the boating friends gathered together and made it through another storm safely.
Carrie made her flight on the following Thursday and joined me in West Virginia for a welcome break from the storm battered area. I'm trying to pamper her while she's here to show my deep respect and admiration for her accomplishments during Hurricane Wilma.
10/28/2005, South Florida
It was where I'd planned to propose to Carrie, but we didn't get to visit the Inn at Cabbage Key in August because of a little storm named Katrina, so we ventured to it during my September visit to Ft. Myers Beach.
We didn't have enough daylight to make it all the way the first night, so we anchored off the south end of Sanibel Island. As dinner commenced and darkness fell the wind picked up and we experienced a strong rain storm, however it was the lightning in the distance that concerned me. Thankfully though as darkness continued the lightning didn't strike us and our storm turned out to be only wind and rain.
At daybreak we headed for the Sanibel draw bridge, traversed the Miserable Mile, and continued north on the ICW, motorsailing under beautiful sunny skies and winds from the SE past the day markers guiding the way through the shoals to Cabbage Key and Useppa Island.
We anchored and enjoyed the peace, the local scenery, the sunsets and sunrises, the time together talking and planning our future cruises; we enjoyed some Cabbage Key cheeseburgers and a piece of the best Key Lime pie I have ever tasted. We explored the island, amazed at the recovery since Hurricane Charlie in 2004.
However, the weekend wasn't without its challenges. The recently replaced Alternator mysteriously stopped charging the house batteries; when we tried to go exploring in the dinghy the motor that was recently repaired wouldn't start; and on the trip home the engine temperature climbed to the point we chose dropped anchor and call BoatUS for a tow back to the marina (that $100 investment saved us over $1000 in towing that day).
Boats take repair and maintenance, and cruising puts a strain on systems that have seen many miles, but we spent time together doing the things we both love, sailing, exploring new places, and planning the big cruise to faraway places.
Sounds like time well spent to me.
10/11/2005, Annapolis MD
It has taken weeks to put "The List" together. Carl and I sat down, each at our own home many miles apart, and began working on the list. What list you might ask? Well, I'm talking about the list of necessary boat parts, replacements and upgrades we will need in order to get our boat ready for the "cast off" in May of 2007.
As most of you know, Carl and I announced our engagement and told the story about how we met over the Internet. Well, we promised we would keep you abreast of our adventures and, well, this is all part of it. So here goes.
The list contains things like.New Sails, a Water Maker, Solar and Wind Generation, Lazy Jacks, etc, etc, etc. The list is very long, very expensive and very necessary. A trip up to Annapolis MD and one of the biggest in-water sailboats shows around, put us in front of hundreds of vendors at one time so that we could compare, ask questions and look at every product you can imagine for your cruising experience.
It was very fruitful, I think, in that we spent a lot of money on something that wasn't even on the list. Portlights. Okay, they should have been on the list. I don't know how we missed them, it's obvious they need to be replaced, so now we have them, or at least they are on order.
Can you guess what Carl and I will be doing on his next trip down to Florida?
09/04/2005, Fort Myers Beach FL/Morgantown WV
Carrie and I have known each other for almost a year now and have developed a wonderful loving relationship over that time despite the distance between us. I have truly found the woman I was meant to be with. We complete one another in a way that neither of us has yet experienced in our lives, and we both believe the search for our life partner is complete.
We have found that we share a common dream and have been making extensive plans to travel together on our sailboat Circe up the east coast and then into the Caribbean islands in 2007 as a "shakedown" cruise in preparation for cruising extensively around the world in the future.
As a sign of our commitment to each other and our common dream of a life loving and sailing together, we have decided to join together in marriage.
However, we have come to a difficult decision. With the daunting tasks of leaving a corporate position, selling or giving away most of my material possessions, and moving aboard Circe to be with her full time this spring, we have decided not to have a gathering of family and friends for our wedding. Instead we presently plan to have a private ceremony at a time and place still to be determined.
We plan to organize a gathering prior to leaving on our shakedown cruise to celebrate our departure and reaffirm our connection with each of you. We will keep you posted on our progress and plans.
Time to re-fuel and go home. As we leave the mooring field in Marathon, I can't help but daydream about mine and Carl's dream to go cruising. There are a lot of people who talk about it, some are preparing for it and some are actually out there doing it. We are in the "preparing for it" stage. We plan to leave in March of 2008. Right now we are working, saving and preparing the boat. I can assue you though, that when March 2008 comes around, we will not be one of those who says, and I quote, "we can't leave until we get a new this or that." Ready or not! here we come!
06/25/2005, Marithon Florida
Leaving Key West was like leaving behind a perpetual party. Like all good things...it had to end. A friend of ours from Snook Bight Marina, where I live-a-board, left recently to live in Marathon, it was there we had agreed to meet-up with him so he could join us on the last leg of our sail to Fort Myers Beach to pick up his truck.
As we arrived in The Mooring field of Marathon City Marina, we pick up our mooring ball and right away began meeting new friends. Sailors are the greatest bunch of people. We walked around and saw where Ben's new home was and ate at a Fish Market, all you can eat crabs. Sara is a little girl but boy can she put a way the crabs. Two hours after sitting down to eat, we were finally on our way out to the mooring field.
The next day we decided to go do some snorkeling and fishing. We went to Sombrero Key and had quite a good time snorkeling. Then, it was off to some unknown location (unknown because Ben doesn't want anyone fishing there) to go spear fishing. Ben and Sara hop over board while Mary Kay and I lounge in the cockpit. It's not long before Ben has a nice Grouper and we head back to the mooring field for dinner.
Tomorrow's the trip back home and like all great vacations, this one has to end also. Time to pull out the charts and plan the last leg.
05/22/2005, Key West Florida
Key West is a truly unique city. Only in Key West does the day begin when the sun sets. Everyone gathers for Sunset Celebration on the Mallory Dock. Performers of all ages and genders come out and entertain. Once the sun goes down the city comes alive with jugglers, mimes, musicians and street artists, the city moves to a different beat. The streets, filled with sidewalk cafes, open-air bars, legendary pubs and world-class restaurants come alive. It's like nothing I've ever seen. Of Course no trip to Key West would be complete without a picture by the Southern Most Point, and the butterfly Conservatory.