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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!
Maurading in Marathon
02/21/2012

Now we're all settle on moorings in this vast harbour and expect to spend a bit of time here as we did two years ago, enjoying the camaraderie, convenience and comfort of this cruiser-friendly town.

Of course, the day revolves around the 9 o'clock cruisers' net where a moderator engages boaters to introduce themselves if they are new to the harbour, bid farewell if they are leaving, post notices, comments ask for help and advice and, of course, post things for sale or wanted to buy. The "net" concludes with a few trivia questions posed by the moderator or other boaters. It is an upbeat, helpful and welcoming forum.

I then usually take Judy in by dinghy to do Yoga while I roam around doing provisions or chores. After lunch we may dinghy to the beach, or walk to town or do chores. And, of course there' the mandatory happy hour on someone's boat late afternoon. We then retreat to Sea Sharp for dinner and normally bunk down around 9 pm.

We spend a very pleasant day on our friends' trawler snorkelling on a reef a few miles off of Marathon. Sharks, Barracuda and a plethora of reef fishes are noted.

It's easy to fritter away much more time in this environment than you intend. Indeed, there is a story of this old gent who, in his boat was blown into Marathon in a storm in the '80's. The legend goes that he tied up at the dock and remains there today!

However, for Judy an I, we have some compelling developments which are beckoning on us like a siren's call; specifically the recent birth of our first great nephew and the impending birth of two additional great nephews/nieces. So we decide to start to work our way north so we can participate and enjoy these joyous events.

02/25/2012 | Janet
Sounds like all is going well and you are enjoying your time in the 'warmer' weather! Safe travels!
More Anchor Travails
02/21/2012

Recall that we could not get moorings in Marathon Harbour due to the convergence of so many cruising boats so we anchored in a crowded anchorage area. This is where the famous bicycle retrieval incident occurred. We, along with our cruising buddies, were a bit anxious anchoring here because we were expecting a blow with changing wind directions. To add to the complexity, the boats are quite close, some boats use several anchors which means that they will not swing the same way into the wind as we would with one. Also there are various types of boats here; again contributing to the disparate swing tendencies. Suffice it to say that we were edgy in anticipation of the "blow" and wished we would have been able to get a mooring. And blow it did. I spent virtually the entire night in the cockpit of the boat watching Sea Sharp swing pendulosly sometimes in sync with neighbouring boats; at others looking to come perilously close. I/m particularly worried about an old steel boat anchored with several anchors next to me. In the event of contact, you'd be sure I'd get the worse of it.

So, I spend a restless, then cold night as the front passes, night in the cockpit. At daybreak the wind settles down a bit and, of course, the comfort of daylight makes the fears of the night dissipate and I hit the bunk for an hour or two of sleep. It continues to blow but the front has spent itself and we're fine. I did note a neighbouring boat drag anchor around 4 o'clock and fetch up with his neighbour; not a fun thing to happen. They somehow extricate themselves and re-anchor somewhere. I don't think there was serious damage but certainly there would have been scuffs and scratches.

The winds abate but continue to clock and we decide to move Sea Sharp a bit to get out of the way of the aforementioned steel boat. It's still quite blustery and Judy and I try at least three attempts in close quarter conditions before we satisfactorily get our anchor stuck again. And, of course we continue to be haunted by what we may dredge up from the bottom of this very busy harbour.

Things settle down and we enjoy several pleasant days at anchor waiting for a mooring assignment.. Because of the inclement weather, boats are not moving but when the high pressure moves in and the sun comes out again boats start to move and we get a mooring. We are happy to move closer to the facilities and the security of a hurricane-rated mooring. Our several cruising buddies who were anchor with us also get mooring assignments. Blair and Laurie on Odissea XX finally get one (they need a larger mooring given the size and weight of their boat). Mid afternoon, I get a radio call from Blair asking for help; he cannot get his anchor up; it appears lodged in something substantial on the sea bottom. Certainly more substantial than a 26" bicycle. So, I head off in the dinghy to help. And true to form, we are joined by several other cruisers who cannot wait to help out a fellow cruiser in need of assistance. Blair is a diver and has scuba gear and dives on the anchor. He surfaces to report that the anchor chain is lodged in some large obstruction on the bottom; he figures an old sunken derelict boat from this point on known as the "sunken Chris Craft". The solution is several hours of work, mostly by Blair who is doing the diving. But the several rest of us, notably Blair's wife Laurie did yeoman's duty in participating in the recovery.

To summarize a complicated and somewhat indescribable adventure, Blair's anchor chain had wrapped underneath and around this obstruction making it impossible to retrieve the anchor. We first had to relive the pressure on the anchor and did this by running a line to the neighbouring boat who graciously became the "temporary anchor" for Odissea XX. Blair then had to dive on the anchor, tie a line and float to it an remove the chain from the anchor by cutting the "keeper" and unscrewing the shackle. Sounds simple, eh? Well, this is twelve feet under the murky water and Blair has a bad cold. To make matters worse, he runs out of air in his tank. No worries, a neighbouring boat comes to the rescue with an external air device called a Hookah and Blair completes this procedure. So, the anchor is now freed from the chain tethered to a rope and float for future retrieval. We cast off from the neighbour's boat and with Laurie at the helm, Blair on the windlass and me and Brian in the dinghy to try to fend off if necessary, they bring the chain in. It fetches up mightily but the 45,000 pounds of Odissea XX is eventually too much for the rotting sunken Chris Craft and with a great surfacing of detritus plywood from the bottom, the chain finally drags its way back to the boat. Now, to retrieve the anchor. They manoeuvre Odissea XX to the tethered rope temporarily attached to the anchor which Blair liberated from the chain. The strain on the rope was awesome as they worked to bring it back in but finally it broke out an they were able to bring the anchor back on board and reattach it to its parent chain an all was well. A tired Blair and Laurie worked their way to their assigned mooring.

Despite the strains and fatigue of this adventure we had been invited to happy hour on old sailing friends from Fredericton, Maxine and Brian from Benchmark. And true to cruiser form, we all showed up and reprised this now fun adventure in increasing drama. We met new friends and renewed our friendship with Brian and Maxine.

Just another day in the life of a cruiser.

02/24/2012 | Blair and Laurie Aston
Well told...almost feel like I was there all over again!
Anchor Surprise
02/12/2012

I've spoken about the challenges and complexity of anchoring previously in my blog; suffice it to say that safe, secure anchoring is part art, geometry, physics and a lot of luck. We find what looks like a nice little hole among several boats including two which we know from cruising. We drop the hook and back down on it to set it. The holding is very good and we are well set and seemingly in a decent spot. As the boats settle down, we soon realize that we are quite close to friend on a lovely Monk trawler so they having been there first, it is incumbent on us to move further away from them.

With Judy at the helm and me retrieving and relaunching the anchor, we move within the same general area but further from our neighbours and reset the anchor. Judy does a great job manoeuvring the boat and applies reverse to back down on the anchor, which would normally cause it to dig in an bring the boat to a halt. Unfortunately the boat keeps backing down getting increasingly closer to our aforementioned neighbours' new-to-them trawler. I can't understand it but we need to bring the anchor back up and try again. Using the powerful electric windlass, I retrieve the 60 feet or so of chain we have deployed and just as I would expect the anchor to emerge from the green but murky waters, instead, we hoist up a barnacle encrusted BICYCLE, firmly attached to our trusty anchor. I was yelling directional orders to Judy but she could not hear me and had no idea what we had hooked. Our various neighbours got a great kick out of our slight misfortune but, true to form, various offered to help. Karl, a congenial Swede who with his partner Laura, cruise on a well equipped Morgan Out Island 41 comes to our aid and snags the offending bicycle and drags it to shore. We continue our anchoring effort, and, in the absence of the additional junk, we quickly set our anchor and settle in to spend some time in Marathon.

02/12/2012 | The Leafs
Oh, the joys of anchoring! Glad you only hooked a bike and not cables. Glad you are enjoying your voyage. See you when you get back!
02/13/2012 | harry
From the picture the bike looks like a hybrid Trek.I am searching for a Valentine's Day present for Henny.
Do you mind to bring this thing to Fredericton for me ?
P.S. I believe I have covered more km 's on my bike since November then you and Judy on Sea Sharpe, although I stayed in the same spot and you moved a bit.
Take care and keep running becauce we here ,are !
02/15/2012 | Karen
Knowing your love of a certain TV show Mike I am surprised you didn't pull up a shopping cart,
Karen
02/18/2012 | Ricky
Hi Julian,
It's Conky's bike. Be careful, he can't be too far away..........
02/18/2012 | Jerry B.
There once was a sailor by the name of Mike,
who took up the anchor and found a bike,
using his decision making gift,
he set the bike adrift,
because "it wasn't the type I like !"
Miami to Marathon
02/12/2012

We've finally moved on from Miami. Having spent a fun and relaxing three weeks spread between Miami Beach and Key Biscayne, the time came to leave. We left Crandon Park Marina to spend the night at No Name Harbour, further down on Key Biscayne and closer to the short route which meanders from Biscayne Bay into the Florida Straits. We have decided to head down the Keys to Marathon and see what we'll do from there.

Long time blog followers will recall that two winters ago we went to Marathon and spent several weeks here. On that trip down we took for the most part the ICW (Intracoastal Water Way) route or inside route. There are, in fact, three routes from Miami to Marathon and Key West; the aforementioned "inside route being one, the others are the Hawk Channel Route and the Florida Straits (Ocean) Route.

The inside route takes you south and then west, between the keys and Florida mainland. This is the skinny route as there are parts where the controlling depth is less than 5 feet and when we did this route two years ago we brushed bottom several times. You really have to play the tides, even though the tidal range is about a foot and a half. This route takes you through several sounds, mangrove creeks and eventually, Florida Bay. We really enjoyed this route even though you certainly need to be on the qui vive otherwise you'll be making a call to Tow Boat US.

The Ocean route takes you out into the Atlantic/Florida Straits and in addition to the normal challenges of offshore sailing, you have to contend with the Gulf Stream, the challenges of which I've spoken about numerous times in the past.

The Hawk Channel route is probably the most popular route for deep draft boats. While it would appear to be in the Atlantic, in fact, it is a narrow route between the mainland Keys and the chain of barrier reefs which essentially parallel the Keys. It has lots of water and offers some protection from the larger seas of the Florida Straits, particularly if there is or has been east winds.

So, we opt for the Hawk Channel this year, particularly because we are travelling in the company of Blair and Laurie on their Morgan 462, Odissea XX which draws six and a half feet rendering the inside route impossible for them.

It's about 100 miles from Miami to Marathon and, obviously cannot be completed in the daylight hours of one day. There are numerous crab and lobster pots along the route; nothing like in Maine, but makes travelling at night somewhat perilous. Fortunately, about half way there is a fair weather anchorage near Key Largo, in the lee of Rodriguez Key.

We leave No Name Harbour at the crack of dawn and motor and sail the 50 or so mile to Rodriguez Key under grey skies and threatening showers and make it comfortably to our selected anchorage early in the afternoon. We are the only two boats in this particular aspect of the anchorage although there are several other cruisers elsewhere in the general vicinity.

We enjoy a peaceful night and leave at 6:30 am the next day to complete our journey to Marathon. There are numerous very heavy showers along our route and while they are not squally, we go through several very hard downpours. Great way to wash the salt off of the deck!

We arrive in the Marathon/Boot Key Harbour area just after 2:00 p.m. I contact the City Marina who maintains the extensive mooring field but am told that they are all taken and we'll have to anchor. Not normally an issue but the anchorage area is also quite congested and there is a strong cold front with associated heavy winds coming the next day. So we and Odissea XX enter the congested and complicated harbour, picking our way through the multitudinous fleet of boats to find a safe place to anchor.

Judy's Birthday
02/04/2012

You've surely heard the old saw, "Any publicity is good publicity"? Well Judy espouses a variation on this theme, "Any attention is good attention". Judy is a natural actress and loves the spotlight; she was brought up on the stage and loves the spotlight. She'll take it any way she gets it. And guess what is her favorite day of the year? Yeah, you've got it, her birthday. So loves to be pampered and the focus of the day.

I on the other hand find birthdays most disconcerting. They mark another notch in the "Three score years and ten" countdown. Judy can't understand my, at best, indifference to birthdays and in particular, the discomfort in the recognition of mine. We came to an understanding a few years ago when I told her, "Judy think about how much you love your birthday? That's how much I detest mine! So we've come to an easy understanding of each other's desires to recognize our natal day.

So from this point on I will ask Judy to recount her "special day" here at Key Biscayne, Florida.....

6 a.m. February 1st.Normally not a morning person I wake up with a smile on my face not only to celebrate my birthday but had a wonderful dream, "Frolicking in the snow in a beautiful pink snow suit with my soon to be born great niece Jaida Jesso. Her mother, my loving niece Colleen who I adore, asked me recently, "Are you going to spoil my baby as much you did me?" Well of course and more. I am over the moon to welcome this child into our world!

6:30 a.m. As the sun rises over Crandon park Marina, on Key Biscayne, I read my beautiful birthday card from my loving parents. You wonder how did I get mail living on a sailboat? My brother Jerry from New Jersey delivered it in person last week when he joined us for an adventurous three days aboard Sea Sharp.

7:30 a.m. back to bed for a while with my tea and a great read, the last days of JFK junior & Caroline "Fairy Tale Interrupted" Once Mike is up & about I love to curl up and have the aft cabin to my self.

9 ish. Head to shore with Chopin for his morning walk. Not many cruisers in this Marina so all is quiet on the Western front, just the way Chopin likes it. He has now adjusted going to shore in the dinghy in his bed as he really does not like traveling in the kennel. But we have to be careful as we approach the dinghy dock. He's ready to jump too early. I call Mom (86) & Dad (87) in New Jersey as I have unlimited international on my iPhone How blest am I to still have them in my life!! Their annual tradition; they sing H.B in harmony to me. Had a wonderful chat, many laughs, and with one more tradition we sing together "HOW DO YOU LIKE TO GO UP IN A SWING" I debuted on stage in Gander Nfld elementary school on an actual swing as I sang. I also competed in the Kiwanis music Festival at the age of 8, winning 1st place I might add and performed it later on CBC Radio. You wonder why does my friend Carolyn refer to me as "The Diva" And so my family on each birthday exclaim, "Little Miss Judy Wakeham" from Gander Nfld turns 59, not true!!

Noon: Mike & I hike to Crandon Park beach for a picnic on the beach (wraps, Pringles & cold beer) and bask in the afternoon sun for a couple of hours. Since I retired of my goals is to swim on my birthday as up until 2008 I always celebrated in the coldest month of the year. So swim I did and also enjoyed a solo walk on the beach while Mike guarded our belongings. He was happy reading his kindle! During my walk I encountered with many species of birds along the way thinking what a care free life they have as I share the love the water/sandy beach with them. I see a sand bar ahead as my turn around, stroll out a ways over the ripples, and ponder even though I don't like the certain ring to 59. How fortunate am I to be here, with a healing happy heart, living our dream to sail into the sunset. I miss home family/friends of course so suffice to say was thrilled as each phone call, e-mail, face book birthday wishes appeared on my iPhone all day long. Once again thank you all so much.

3:30 head back to Sea Sharp for my afternoon nap. Mike always comments, "Judy looks forward to her naps like a hobby!!! LOL I certainly do!

5 p.m. Not wanting to look like a haggard sailor, I doll up for 6 pm. sunset cocktails on Carolyn Gambles favorite stern chair and reservations at "The Rusty Pelican" 2 miles from Marina (We take a short bus ride over the Rickenbacher bridge towards Miami but still on Key Biscayne. A gorgeous evening, we were seated outside to a fireside pit overlooking the spectacular view of Miami skyline. As the waiter serves our drinks/calamari appetizers, I am once again thrilled with 2 simultaneous phone calls from my sister Tricia, NJ and brother Bob, Nfld. Then we move to a white table cloth covered candlelight table & dined on Sea Bass and Stuffed salmon. At $11 a glass of wine I limit myself to two but the ambiance was certainly worth it. And Michael said to me once the bill arrived, "You are worth if Judy". That's a keeper!!

I call my "girl" friend Carolyn Gamble from Fredericton and ask "what is the name of this restaurant which she treated Mike & I last year during their visit to Sea Sharp?" of course she knew. Our conversation was the next best thing to having her there with me. While on the phone I was surprised with a cheescake delight & HAPPY BIRTHDYA JUDY written in chocolate on the plate pre planned by my loving husband. Scrumptious! What an evening!

8:45 we catch the bus back to Marina, while walking to bus depot I thank Mike for a wonderful evening, but comment, "I will definitely want some fanfare for my 60th next year". Already looking forward to that occasion. As I'm writing this entry for the blog, Mike asks "What are doing, writing a novel?. Well he asked me to do this entry!!! I enjoy a coconut rum liqueur upon arrival on Sea Sharp still reading more face book wishes. I head to bed 10ish, (a wee bit later than usual) reminiscing the day's events with of course a smile on my face.

Feb. 2nd. I wake up a little later than yesterday, my first comment to Mike: "Can we celebrate all over again?"

02/05/2012 | Herb and Helen
Just went on your blog and delighted to read Judy's 'novel' and wish you a very Happy Birthday. We are in Casa Grande, AZ this winter and although no beach, are enjoying never ending sunny days ( at least for the past 16 days we have been here) Will toast our Rum/coke and G&T to Judy tonight ( 4pm)
02/10/2012 | Eric Phinney
Just finished reading your whole blog! Took a couple of weeks. I must say that I was very blessed by you superb writing skills. This is the best one that I have read of the couple of dozen or so that have detailed the trip from Atlantic canada south. My wife and I hope to do the same trip in a few years. We have just purchases a west indies 36 which will get the upgrades needed over the next number of seasons. I am at the Renforth Boat Club in Rothesay where I serve as the Harbour master and the Rector of the Parish of Renforth. See you on the water. Eric Phinney. SV Action Plan.
02/25/2012 | Janet & Arden
Geez.... 2 years in a row! Hope you had a fab birthday Judy!!!! Sorry I am so late with the wishes!!!
You Don't Know Where You're Going 'Till You Get There
02/03/2012

The day after the Jimmy Buffett concert, we leave Sunset Lake to head over to Key Biscayne, a scant but complicated 10 miles away. We really enjoyed Sunset Lake and in particular the company of our cruising buddies Blair and Laurie. But we need to move on and want to get hunkered down before the impending front hits. And we like Crandon Park Marina on Key Biscayne.

We've been here several times before and, in fact, spent a couple of days here the week before where we met Judy's brother Jerry.

Anyway, we take the complicated but short trek back along the "lozenge islands" under the Venetian Causeway bascule bridge (which on weekends normally opens on demand but because the Miami Marathon was underway opened precisely at 9:58 am) four additional fixed bridges, various channel changes and finally on to the beginning of Key Biscayne. We are assigned a mooring and settle in for a while.

And here we are almost a week later still in the same place. What have we done? Not much but plenty. The weather was a bit unsettled so the winds were brisk from the north and east so we were glad to be in a sheltered spot. Our days have vanished, mostly spent walking, running, reading, doing boat chores, walking Chopin but, if measured in my previous "performance appraisal" mode, we would certainly not have merited a bonus for extra effort.

Key Biscayne is a few miles from Miami, connected by the elegant Rickenbacker Bridge and Causeway. We can take a convenient bus either to Miami or Key Biscayne Village. We are a mile and half walk from the fantastic Crandon Park Beach, considered to be one of the best in the word.

We are on a mooring and probably the only "live aboard" here so its as if we have the place to ourselves. While we have places to explore, it seems like we have succumbed to the inertia which so easily afflicts long time cruisers.

But, move on we will and while we don't know where we'll go from here, we are starting to feel the need to change scenery.

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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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