Living The Dream

Most of them dream... We LIVE IT.

Vessel Name: Santorini
Vessel Make/Model: Mariner/Mayflower 48'
Hailing Port: Punta Gorda, Florida
Crew: Tom, Dawn, Chico & Charley
Social:
13 August 2016 | Isla Mujeres, Mexico
28 July 2013 | Punta Gorda, FL
28 July 2013 | Punta Gorda, FL
22 April 2011 | St. Andrews Bay, Panama City, FL
21 March 2011 | Panama City, Florida
16 March 2011 | Port St. Joe, Florida
14 March 2011 | Tampa Bay, FL
12 March 2011 | Ft. Myers, Florida
11 March 2011 | Ft. Myers Beach, FL
03 March 2011 | Isla Mujeres, MX
25 February 2011 | Isla Mujeres, MX
17 February 2011 | Colon, Panama
14 February 2011 | Panama City, Panama
07 February 2011 | Panama City, Panama
05 February 2011 | Isla Toboga
02 February 2011 | Golfo de Panama
01 February 2011 | Panama
31 January 2011 | Bahia Honda to Ensenada Benao
30 January 2011 | Bahia Honda, Panama
Recent Blog Posts
13 August 2016 | Isla Mujeres, Mexico

Back in Isla Mujeres!

It's been a fast 3 years since moving to Punta Gorda, FL. Although we haven't done much sailing, we have made some very nice improvements and upgrades to Santorini. We had her hauled out for bottom paint - this time applying Petit Trinidad 75. It had been 5 years since her last paint job with Trinidad [...]

28 July 2013 | Punta Gorda, FL

Home At Last

We moved into our new house end of May 2013. Tom towed the SeaRay down and put it in storage. We made several trips down to move, but sadly left Santorini behind in Panama City, Fl until we could prepare her slip in Punta Gorda.

28 July 2013 | Punta Gorda, FL

Getting Our Freedom Back

After swallowing the anchor in Panama City, FL for 2 years we are looking forward to getting back into cruising mode. We were certainly grateful for Tom landing a job when he did - it saved us when our businesses went bust. It was tough working 8-5 M-F with 1 week of vacation after having been self-employed [...]

22 April 2011 | St. Andrews Bay, Panama City, FL

Settling In on the Gulf Coast

We had a great trip back to OC. It was wonderful to see everyone and a relief to finally move the rest of our stuff. We stopped and stayed with family and friends along the way during our trip home. We missed the kitties, and they missed us even more. Our neighbors, Don & Kelly live on a houseboat [...]

21 March 2011 | Panama City, Florida

Back to the OC

Well it's only been 4 days since we sailed into port here in Panama City, FL but we're already heading back to Orange County, CA. My friend Beth is engaged to a great guy named Alan. He happens to own a private jet. They flew in this afternoon from Key West for a short overnight visit and are returning [...]

18 March 2011 | Panama City, Florida

Mission Accomplished: Over 5000 miles in less than 5 months!

We finally made it! We sailed into St. Andrews Bay at 2 pm on St. Patrick's Day, it was a very moving experience! There's nothing like achieving a many years long goal. The people here are wonderful - everyone is SO NICE! Southern hospitality is alive and well.

Back in Isla Mujeres!

13 August 2016 | Isla Mujeres, Mexico
It's been a fast 3 years since moving to Punta Gorda, FL. Although we haven't done much sailing, we have made some very nice improvements and upgrades to Santorini. We had her hauled out for bottom paint - this time applying Petit Trinidad 75. It had been 5 years since her last paint job with Trinidad 70 in CA - virtually NOTHING growing on the bottom in spite of rarely having it cleaned. Impressive!

While she was un the shipyard we had a bow thruster installed - my, my why didn't we do it sooner! What a great thing to have on a yacht with as much windage as she has. Just before that Tom installed a 2 cubic foot freezer in the cold storage next to the fridge. Now when we catch those yummy fish we can freeze them for later! Another great upgrade was the refrigerator door Tom installed where the front panel used to be. Not only can we retrieve dropped beer cans, but the entire bottom of the fridge is now usable space where it was wasted space before. He used the teak panel he cut as the front of the door - looks fabulous!

Most recently we removed the tired, worn out canvas top. Tom constructed a new hard top cockpit cover. While we are in Mexico this month Fortune Canvas is making and installing the new enclosure. We raised up the front part so the whole cockpit cover is now high enough to stand under - no more hitting our heads on the way to the companionway! More solar panels to support the freezer will go on top.

In June, we closed on a vacation rental property located on our favorite Caribbean Island - Isla Mujeres. (See www.castellito.com) We flew down with our 2 cats for the month of August to escape the S Florida Summer heat and supervise the construction of a new pool. After or lease expires in May 2017, we'll be moving back on Santorini. We can't wait!

Home At Last

28 July 2013 | Punta Gorda, FL
We moved into our new house end of May 2013. Tom towed the SeaRay down and put it in storage. We made several trips down to move, but sadly left Santorini behind in Panama City, Fl until we could prepare her slip in Punta Gorda.

Finally on July 17, dredging was completed - the same day we left for Dallas, TX. We quickly pulled out the Tide Charts - very important since she sits on the bottom at low tide in PC, and the Ponce De Leon Inlet in PG is only 6 ft deep mean low tide. Santorini draws 6.5. We were returning from Dallas on 7/22. It became clear that if we did not get her out of PC that same week, it would be 3 WEEKS before we could think about moving her.

We got home from Dallas on 7/22 at 2:30 pm, drove home from the airport, dropped off our convention clothes, and picked up our sailing clothes (& the ship's cat Chico.

We drove 8 hours to PC, got in about midnight and slept on the boat. We got up early to provision, get fuel, etc. and pulled away from the dock about 2 pm - just after high tide. We decided to sail to Port St. Joe - 4-5 hours away. We'd get a good night's rest, do an overnight sail to hopefully arrive at Egmont Cay (Tampa Bay) late the next day.

Our first disaster was a cockroach infestation. Tom ran out of room the last trip of our move and stored a bunch of stuff on board. The bugs must have been in the cardboard boxes - what a MESS! We anchored in PSJ just before a squall came though - with 45 knot winds. We were glad to be in a protected anchorage. We had a nice dinner, went to bed early, so we could get an early start. Our next problem was the windlass - the switch went out so Tom had to pull up 100 ft of 3/8 chain and 60+ lb anchor BY HAND.

West winds were predicted - great we thought since we are headed East. The problem was the West and Southing we had to do to get around the Cape at PSJ. In the midst of it, the engine quit. We've had fuel problems in rough seas before, but Tom thought he'd fixed it. Apparently not. Sails went up very quickly!

It took half the day to get around the Cape, and by then the predicted thunderstorms had rolled in. We knew the dodger was on its last legs but now you see daylight though the canvas - and it leaks like a sieve. Time to replace it with that hard dodger we've talked about! We were soaked.

Fortunately we got the jib rolled in before the storms came - only to realize that the roller furling bearing had parted. The seas were rolling, getting hit broadside made for a VERY bumpy ride. The wounded jib was a non-issue because the wind was 15-20 knots - to much. The evening wasn't bad, but not very comfortable either.

We were tired, clearly out of shape for the trip. We really did not want to have to do this during Hurricane Season, but really had no choice. Let's just say this is NOT this time be be sailing the Gulf of Mexico. We didn't see ONE boat all night that first night at sea.

We were headed for Egmont Key, but soon realized we'd likely get in around 3 am. By that night West winds had shifted to NW, right behind us pushing us home. We decided to spend a second night at sea and get in to Charlotte Harbor the next morning. We were blessed with a gorgeous sunset, a full moon and lots of stars.

Turns out we made the RIGHT decision, the thunderstorms later that night were INTENSE. How intense you ask?

Well, Tom was sleeping in the cockpit with his eyes closed and his hat over his face. There was lightening in every direction and he could see the bolts through the dodger, hat and closed eyelids! He was nervous, but I just visualized a bubble of white light around us and Santorini- protecting us all - determined we would NOT be hit by lightening.

We were glad we weren't trying to get into port or anchor in those conditions. At times it was coming down so hard that we almost couldn't see the bow of the boat! The rain looked like fog.

We had a better sail the next day, eventually the waves eased and the wind was behind us - surfing down the waves. Tom was able to fix the fuel problem but then the alternator went out. Fortunately we had solar panels to keep the batteries charged - necessary for the auto-pilot (which started to wander off course toward the end of the trip) and the refrigerator. We put up the storm jib and hauled.

We pulled in to Charlotte Harbor at about 10:30 am, we got to PG about 3:30 pm. It was still 3 more hours to high tide, but we wanted to be HOME. We decide to go for it and did not hit bottom. Our neighbor John saw us pull in, so he ran out to help us tie up at the dock.

She may look like the boat in the movie Captain Ron now (before they fixed her up). But she's HOME, and with a little TLC she'll be back in Full Santorini Splendor! Welcome to your New Home Rini.

Getting Our Freedom Back

28 July 2013 | Punta Gorda, FL
After swallowing the anchor in Panama City, FL for 2 years we are looking forward to getting back into cruising mode. We were certainly grateful for Tom landing a job when he did - it saved us when our businesses went bust. It was tough working 8-5 M-F with 1 week of vacation after having been self-employed for over 25 years. It truly cramped our style when in came to boating. We are ECSTATIC that he is now a RETIRED Engineer as of 5/17/13! His income allowed me to build a business that not only has returned our former lifestyle of FREEDOM - but will provide us with a Lifestyle beyond our wildest DREAMS. (see www.dawnfleming.com for more info).

When we were in Isla Mujeres we met some cruisers from Punta Gorda, FL - and they raved about the place. We took a road trip to sniff around during New Years Weekend at the end of 2011. It was love at first sight. We started watching the Real Estate market and thinking about relocating there. We returned over Thanksgiving Weekend 2012 and that was it - we were sold.

In May 2013, we came down to find a place to live - sadly the properties we'd been eyeing were gone. We'd already given a 30 day notice, so had to ask about a 30 day extension to stay - which was fine. 3 days later the PERFECT house came on the market. I left a message for the realtor, pulled up the listing info and stuck it on our Dream Board. Linda, the Property Manager called me back at 11 am and said she'd just shown it to a couple and they took it. I said "That's impossible - that's OUR house!"

I said a prayer in front of our Dream Board "Please God, that's our house - make the deal fall through." Linda called back to say the couple had changed their mind - they were in a lease they thought they could get out of - they couldn't. Linda said "Would you like to see it?" I said "No, we want to RENT IT!) So we did - it is FABULOUS! We may need to dredge and add a piling to get the Santorini in, but we''ll get it done!

Settling In on the Gulf Coast

22 April 2011 | St. Andrews Bay, Panama City, FL
We had a great trip back to OC. It was wonderful to see everyone and a relief to finally move the rest of our stuff. We stopped and stayed with family and friends along the way during our trip home. We missed the kitties, and they missed us even more. Our neighbors, Don & Kelly live on a houseboat (pictured here) in the slip next to us and were kind enough to cat sit for us. They went to Shell Island the weekend after we got back and invited us over so we took the dinghy over (about 3.5 to 4 miles). I thought I'd died and gone to heaven it was SO BEAUTIFUL!

When we arrived in PC on St. Patty's Day, Tom asked Don what he does for work: he's an electrician at Eastern Shipbuilding - one of the largest employers in the area. Tom jokingly asked: Are they hiring? Don asked Tom what he does and he told Don he's an engineer. On Friday, Don told Dave, his boss about Tom and Dave asked Don to find out if Tom is an electrical engineer - which he is. So the night before we left Dave came over and interviewed Tom over a beer on the dock. Dave said to get in touch when we returned from CA.

On April 5th he went in for interviews. It took a couple of weeks to figure out where Tom would fit best as they had engineering and project management needs. This week he started working there in the perfect position - a liaison between engineering and production. They are installing cameras on the ships they are building and asked Tom is he knew anything about the FLIR camera - of course he was very involved in the development of them!

They are very fortunate to have Captain Tom on their team, and will realize it more and more as the days go by. The last couple of years have been challenging in his industry, it's good to see him using his vast skills at a place that needs him. Meanwhile, I've been meeting people through Rotary and the Chamber of Commerce and have made some great contacts who are very interested in what I'm doing.

We are blessed. You never know what's waiting for you around the next corner - or in our case, across the country. Some times you just have to take that leap of faith. We're so glad we did.

Back to the OC

21 March 2011 | Panama City, Florida
Well it's only been 4 days since we sailed into port here in Panama City, FL but we're already heading back to Orange County, CA. My friend Beth is engaged to a great guy named Alan. He happens to own a private jet. They flew in this afternoon from Key West for a short overnight visit and are returning to SoCal tomorrow. Since we have one more vehicle and Tom's Office/Machine Shop that needs to be moved, we asked to hitch a ride and they gladly agreed to take us with them.

So tomorrow we will be taking our first trip via Private Jet! We'll be in town for about a week before driving back to Florida. Our new neighbors here at the marina have agreed to cat sit for us and keep an eye on the boat. Our son Dustin will be picking us up at the airport and we'll be staying in Orange with our friend Anne. We look forward to seeing everyone in OC.

Mission Accomplished: Over 5000 miles in less than 5 months!

18 March 2011 | Panama City, Florida
We finally made it! We sailed into St. Andrews Bay at 2 pm on St. Patrick's Day, it was a very moving experience! There's nothing like achieving a many years long goal. The people here are wonderful - everyone is SO NICE! Southern hospitality is alive and well.

Our friend Cookie, who we meet a couple of years ago when we were first checking out the area, picked us up and took us to our storage facility so we could get our cars. She offered, we didn't have to ask. There are lots of cruisers on the dock who are more than happy to provide what ever help we need. We are so excited to get settled in to our new home here In Panama City.
Santorini's Photos - Panama Canal Transit
Photo 8 of 58 | Back To Album
Prev   Next
Added 27 February 2011

About & Links