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Retirement to Bahamas
Mike and Judy have been sailing for some 25 years. We have dreamed for years about retiring and sailing to the Bahamas and Caribbean. We are living our dream!
Back on Sea Sharp (finally)
02/05/2013, Riverside Marina

Hi folks, just a quick note to let readers know that I am finally back on Sea Sharp. She is dry, clean and apparently in good shape. Several days of tidying up and then into the water. I have a lot of catching up to do for my blog......

02/07/2013 | Eric Phinney
Great to see that you are back aboard. It is -14 today in Saint John and the only boat projects that I can work on are in my Heated garage! Looking forward to hearing your plans for the season.
02/10/2013 | Larry Morrow
Glad you made it back. We are heading to Marathon this coming week for an extended stay in Boot Key on a mooring ball. Are you heading to the Bahamas?
02/12/2013 | Karl Wilmot
Morning Mike, Just back from 17 days of sailing in Florida, Punta Gorda to Marathon where we laid over 7 days waiting for the right winds to go to the Dry Tortugas. Finally gave up and headed back to Punta Gorda via Naples, Pine Island. Have a great season.
02/21/2013 | Bob and Carolyn
Hi folks
Good to see your blog back on the air. At least we can 'think warm' while shoveling snow.
03/04/2013 | jerry
yo ho me mates !! Its hard to believe its been over a year since I spent 3 days on SS. One of the highlights forever etched in my heart of a wonderful experience with boat and crew. Smooth sailing always till I see you again in the spring. YLBJ
04/18/2013 | Larry Morrow
What happened to your trip and the blog? Everything okay with you guys or did you change blog sites?
Grauntie and Gruncle
03/26/2012

I know this is primarily a sailing/cruising blog but since I'm the author and you don't pay me to write this, I can post whatever I please. And what pleases me the most now is my new great niece Jaida.

Blog followers will realize that we cut our winter cruise short this year because we were expecting three great nieces/nephews. One (William John) was born five weeks ago and while we missed his birth, we have met this delightful little sailor-in-waiting.

Two weeks ago we hustled home to be in time for the birth of our niece Colleen and her husband James' child. And we're proud to introduce our blog followers to Jaida Malia. She is my late brother John and Judy's sister Carol's grand daughter and where we don't have children, she's like our own grandchild. My sister coined the term Grauntie and Gruncle as a contraction of great aunt and uncle.

We're so pleased to be able to report on happy family circumstances. And while we miss Sea Sharp and the warm southern weather, our return to these two and soon to be a third new family member is certainly worth it.

03/26/2012 | The Leafs
Congrats again to you both! We are looking forward to more updates and your return to the sunny South.
We're Home!
03/17/2012

We arrived home in Fredericton after a longish but uneventful drive from New Jersey today. All's well at home.

03/19/2012 | Elden & Susan
Glad you have arrived safely. We are getting Soteria back together today and should have a photo when she is done. Have a great summer and see you next season!
03/25/2012 | Janet
Surprised!!! Glad you are back safe and sound.
Reflections on Cruise 2011/12
03/16/2012

Yes, it's hard to believe that we've just concluded our fourth year of long-term (if not long-distance) cruising. To rehash our first three years:

Year 1 - Fresh into retirement, Judy, Chopin and I leave home on September1, 2008 to head down the eastern coast of US then to the Bahamas for the winter. Our idyllic adventure is harshly interrupted by my brother's death and while we pick up the pieces, it's been very hard on us.

Year 2 - Still reeling from our terrible family tragedy, we decide to stay in the US this year and cruise the Florida Keys. It's what the doctor ordered and was a pleasant year.

Year 3 - Back to the Bahamas in the company of our wonderful friends Roger and Jacquie, we have a great year exploring the beautiful Exumas. We are learning to cruise at leisure and don't feel we always have to be on the move.

This year we head down at our usual time (early November). We're still somewhat dazed by the death of my Mom and the many arrangements and affairs associated with her passing. Also, we're a bit distracted by the impending birth of three great nieces/nephews as well as the prospects of the sale of Judy's parents' homestead in New Jersey. As a result we decide that it's probably more feasible to remain in Florida and explore the west coast than head to Bahamas. Not long after I'm back on Sea Sharp, we receive an offer on my late Mother's house and I commit to return home. Fortuitously, Sea Sharp is still on the hard and Judy is still at her parents'. So while it's inconvenient and disruptive, I head home and attend to the sale of the house. It's a huge relief having this off our minds and Judy reunites with me on Sea Sharp and we launch and head off.

We spend five relaxing weeks at Loggerhead Marina in Stuart before heading down to Miami, then to the Keys. We start to run out of time and family matters are again pressing so we decide to head back north early. And here we are, reflecting on the conclusion of another year.

Some observations/conclusions after four years....

* We only put on 500 miles and to places we've pretty well already cruised but it was very relaxing and enjoyable
* We did miss the beauty of the Bahamas but Judy was able to make up for the swimming part she loves so much with the several pools at the marinas we stayed at as well as swimming off the back of Sea Sharp at every opportunity.
* We miss cruising with Roger and Jacquie and missed Georgina's visit
* Sea Sharp worked very well and provided us, once again with a comfortable and convenient home
* Poor Chopin is getting old and has a harder and harder time going up and down the companionway. Having said this he's still game and loves the long walks Judy takes him.
* We seem to finally have conquered our energy management issues which is a big relief.
* Our stay at the Loggerhead Marinas was very pleasant and we highly recommend this family of marinas.
* I have become less and less concerned with specific goals (destinations, miles, etc) and content to roam around on whim.
* We continue to be amazed at the closeness and inter-woveness of the cruising community. We run into folks we have met over the years and meet many new people.
* We had a few great sails, almost exclusively in Biscayne Bay
* We had great visits, mostly short but very pleasant; notably Jim and Jackie, Peter and Sandi, Lloyd and Murielle and certainly Judy's brother Jerry.
* Maintaining a boat under live-aboard conditions and in a subtropical environment is a constant battle. But, it's possible to keep a boat in Bristol condition if you work at it.
* Boats shrink and grow. When you first arrive back on the boat it seems so large; then as the season progresses, it gets very small. At the end of the season when you face the many projects to ready it for storage, it grows again.
* Emergency health care in Florida is responsive and professional (evidence my slicing of my hand near Miami).

And so, it is with mixed emotions that we abandon Sea Sharp to her summer internment, "on the hard" at Riverside Marina. On the other hand we have important family matters to attend to, notably the arrival of three grand nieces/nephews and helping Judy's parents with their transition to a new domicile. And, of course, we look forward to resuming our summer lives in New Brunswick and renewing our many friendships!

P.S. There may be more posts coming so don't think this is the end until next fall. And we love to hear from readers - we never know who and how many are following and whether the effort is worth it or not. Our email is mckendym@gmail.com

03/16/2012 | Mary Ellen & Karl
We read your blog faithfully ... really enjoy it for sure!
03/16/2012 | greg_gamble
Thanks for the update on your adventure.
We keep up to date here.
See u soon and bring spring with you.
03/19/2012 | elaine
Love your posts (even the technical ones) Love that you will continue over the summer
Glad you are home safe and sound.
I like you and Judy with no children have been blessed to be involved in nephews and nieces lives. It is wonderful that the next generation is arriving
Mike's Famous Five
03/15/2012

Over the course of the past four years of cruising and in the many, many social setting that we participated in, I have taken it upon myself to pose five questions to the many cruisers we've encountered. I don't do this all the time but if the circumstances present themselves, and the company seems amenable, I will ask people to consider five questions and answer them in turn. You would be amazed at how forthcoming people are (often ,of course, after a couple of sundowners) in responding.

I first started this when we stuck in Great Kills Harbour, Staten Island, due to bad weather on our way down in the fall of 2008. We had finally, after having travelled all the way from Grand Lake to New York, virtually solitary and we were happy for the company we met in Great Kills. I had only been retired for a month and was still in work mode so figured every get together was a meeting and we had to achieve something. So I came up with these questions, which I've posed to dozens and dozens of cruisers in social settings since.

First the questions:
1) Are you more or less content/happy than your contemporaries who are retired but living on land?
2) Are you more or less healthy than your land-based contemporaries?
3) Are you more or less financially secure than you thought you'd be prior to retirement?
4) What are the two most memorable experiences (one positive, one not) since you've been cruising?
5) X plus 5? (Where will you be in five years)?

Now my gathering of this data has been anything but scientific and rigorous. There has been a general overwhelming consensus on the first three of these questions. Now I know that posing these is somewhat like asking the famous question, "Do you still beat your wife"? But the exercise has been interesting.

Virtually everyone said that they felt they are more content than their contemporaries. They also feel that, notwithstanding some of the hedonistic aspects of this lifestyle, they are healthier than their contemporaries. There is a lot of pulling, pushing, tugging crawling, climbing and general physical activity involved in boating, particularly sailing. Some would argue that even sitting around in a boat on anchor involves constant muscular adjustment to the pitch and yaw of the boat. Judy and I try to exercise as often as possible and while I lose my conditioning in the winter and have to work harder in the summer to get back in shape, I don't feel entirely like a sloth. Most Canadians indicate that they are doing fine financially although some of our unfortunate American friends seem to have taken more of a hit from the downturn in the economy. We get an interesting array of answers to question 4; lots of stories about great friendships, wonderful passages, and beautiful vistas, offset by midnight anchor dragging scenarios, engine failures and frightful storms. But the good times always offset the bad.

On the final one, we get a variety of answers. Many indicate that they will be continuing to cruise as they are now and on the same boat. Many indicate that they would like to go further afield (whether they ever will will never be known). Some talk about the progression from sail to trawler and a few acknowledge that they may be forced to surrender this lifestyle to the ageing process.

We've had a lot of fun with this very informal series of questions; it is a great conversation piece and gives everyone at the table equal opportunity to be heard. But more than that I believe it characterizes the cruiser: Happy-go-luck, fit people, of modest but comfortable means living an enviable but sometimes challenging lifestyle, one that they hope to continue doing well into the future.

03/26/2012 | Audrey Paige
It's a small world. We know those 2 people on the right from Trini and Brockville! Just cruising thru blogs and found yours. We're sailing back to the States from Panama after having been out here 9 years.
Another Season Concludes
03/15/2012

I've got a lot to report since my last post which related our return to Stuart. Well, in the week we spent at Loggerhead Marina in Stuart we were very, very busy but still had time to relax and enjoy the company and pleasures of this marina and beautiful town. Basically, we went through the boat from one end to the other, cleaning, servicing and packing in preparation for summer storage.

It's amazing how much "stuff" we lug on board every year, only to repack and lug back home. I won't bore you with the tedium of this process but suffice it to say that we had a lot on our plate. It was great doing this work at the marina as we were on a dock and were able to cart our stuff back to our jeep and load it directly. We are very conscientious about how we prepare our boat for storage. And this diligence has paid off in the last three years as the boat has been dry and clean upon our return. We've heard horror stories about owners who have returned to their boats after storage for the summer only to find it full of mold and mildew. In our case, we remove our clothing but store all the remainder of the linens, canvas and sails in very large zip lock type bags. We thoroughly clean the boat inside and out and I change the oil, service the outboard and generator and do any number of other chores.

In this busy week, we were fortunate to have made contact with great old running friends from Fredericton, Lloyd and Murielle. We had them over for dinner and it was good fun. Also, there were the usual pot lucks, happy hours and dinners out. And, of course, Judy (Nemo) swam daily at the marina pool.

The weather is dodgy this past weekend but we're now anxious to get home. On Monday the weather starts to improve (although it is still very blustery) and we decide to head from Stuart to Fort Pierce where our summer storage Marina, Riverside, is located. We very much enjoyed our two stays at Loggerhead Stuart and highly comment it to our cruising friends.

We leave at dead low tide at Stuart because we want to arrive at Riverside at high tide as the channel into the marina is quite skinny. The consequence is that we run aground just leaving Stuart but with generous application of throttle, we plow our way through the soft bottom and shortly make our way out the St. Lucie River to the ICW.

After an unremarkable day, we arrive at Riverside around 2:30 and as prearranged drive right into the slipway. I flush the engine and then we are immediately hauled out, pressure washed and moved into the yard and blocked. By 4:30, Sea Sharp is stored although there still is a lot to do. I work a bit more on her while Judy goes to the motel to check in. We were only able to get one night at this place so we'll have to figure out what to do tomorrow (Tuesday).

Up early on Tuesday, we get right to work on Sea Sharp. I'm almost overwhelmed by the many, many details I have to look after but Judy helps out immeasurably, and in fact does all of the loading of the Jeep. Judy then has to check out and find another motel. This latter turns out to be difficult as many places don't want pets, even if poor old Chopin does not create much havoc. She calls to report that she has found one but I tell her that I've made huge progress on our preparations and may be done by early afternoon. So we decide to finish our work and get on the road. By 2 o'clock, I'm done and we check out at the Marina and we head to the Fort Pierce airport where the Customs and Border office is located. We surrender our documents and hit the road. It's sad to leave the boat but we're particularly pleased by how well the decommissioning went. We drive to Georgia tonight (Tuesday) and remark at what great progress we've made.

We head out on Wednesday morning and drive through eight states and arrive at Judy's parents' home in New Jersey twelve hours later around 8:00 p.m. We get the usual warm welcome at Judy's home and reflect that three days ago, we were on Sea Sharp in Stuart and now we're more than 1,000 miles away, the boat stored and heading home. Two weeks ago, when I sliced my hand we were worried our plans were out the window but my temporary handicap really did not cause much of a problem even though I had to be careful. It's particularly timely as we learn that our niece may have her baby as early as Saturday and we want to be home for this momentous event!

I promise to post at least once more with my usual reflections on year four of cruising. Stay tuned!

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Preparing for Retirement Trip
Who: Mike, Judy and Chopin (the boat cat)
Port: Douglas Harbour, NB, Canada
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