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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!
Sharp Blade? I Guess
02/26/2012

So this is the sheath of the knife with the stern and obvious warning!

02/27/2012 | Fred Harriman
Geeze Mike, you usually read the instructions first! Oh I guess you should heed them as well.... Must have scared the bejesus out of Judy. Stay safe. Fred & Dianne.
02/28/2012 | Bob
Tattoo-check, gold earring-check, cutlass scar on hand - check, trade Chopin for parrot-priceless
Where's the Fire
02/26/2012

Not long after the police arrived, a great big fire truck with four very friendly and competant folks arrive to look after me.

Police to the Rescue
02/26/2012

Here are two of the six policemen in three cars which came to our rescue. They were great guys.

Shark Attack (Well Almost)
02/26/2012

When I last posted we had arrived at Crandon Park Marina where we tend to spend time when we're in the Miami area. Cold front came through yesterday afternoon and it was blustery and rainy. But we were secure and the cooler, windy weather was a certainly a relief from the hot, sultry weather recently. We get up at our usual time this morning and I intend to do chores today but more than anything I want to go for a run!

I'm sitting in the cockpit and it is variously pelting rain and later sunny but always blustery. I note a smaller sail boat several moorings behind us apparently having difficulties. One guy is in the water and the skipper is trying to bring the boat to the mooring. Of course, I cannot resist coming to the "aid of the party" so I hop in my dinghy and motor over. They have caught their mooring line in their prop and the guy in the water is valiantly diving to cut the offending line away. They ain't havin' fun.

I have a super-duper pull knife which I purchased for this very vicissitude. As you can see from the picture it is a lethal thing designed to hook on a rope, pull and the razor sharp blade should cut readily. It's stowed in a protective sheath and again in a plastic container. As I drag it out of the container, the sheath remains and the scimitar like blade slices right through my left palm. I felt almost nothing but blood started to spew all over everything. I looked at my hand and knew it was deep as fatty tissue was bulging out through the cut. I immediately head back to Sea Sharp and yell to Judy to get my wallet, phones and bring me to shore. Once ashore, we go to the marina office where they all 911. Soon, three police cars with six officers descend on us; very polite, efficient and concerned. They are the first responders and tell me that the fire department is on its way. I feel fine (Judy doesn't) and have great conversations including asking to take their picture with me for the blog. Soon a great big, honking fire truck arrives with four personnel. They are excellent and assess the situation and conclude that I will probably survive. I have more chats with them including the guy obviously in charge whose son just came back from a hockey tournament in Toronto. They dress my cut and soon an ambulance comes. Somewhat ignominiously I am forced on to a stretcher and into the van and transported to the Mercy Hospital. At least they didn't uses the siren.

I have a good chat with the EMT. He notes my unusually low pulse rate and I tell him it is s result of being a long time runner. He tells me about his novice running attempts and then about his family.

This is a Sunday late morning and fortunately the hospital is quiet. I am triaged though several competent and polite care workers and eventually a very young Physician Assistant puts 15 stitches in my hand! I gave them my Medicare and Blue Cross Cards and never heard anything more about payment. I'm sure I burned up several thousands of dollars of coverage today!

So I know Judy is probably frantic back at Sea Sharp but my iphone battery dies and I cannot contact her. I take a cab back home but get him on the way to stop by a drug store to get the antibiotics and pain killers they prescribe.

Back at the marina, I get the launch to take me back to Sea Sharp and Judy is relieved that I'll make it.

I have to call a hand specialist doctor tomorrow to ensure I have no nerve or tendon damage. I have to return to the hospital in two days to have it checked out then of course in a week to have the sutures removed. My biggest concern is the extent of the dexterity I'll be allowed in the next while. I'm captaining a small boat, intending to return to our summer marina and then home to be with our families.

02/27/2012 | David & Margot Russell
Now that's a scary story.... glad you got such good care
02/29/2012 | Jerry B.
There once was a man who had a fling with a knife,
so (sea) sharp it, it almost cost him his life.
The cut was deep,
the blood came out in a heap,
ah, but now he gets lots of kisses from his wife.
Bucolic Yet Boisterous
02/25/2012

With the worst of the real skinny sections of the ICW between Marathon and Miami behind us, we have to plan our next few days. We know that there is a brisk front coming Saturday afternoon and we'll want to have good protection. And, we're like the horses anticipating the barn, aiming to work our way back to be with our respective families for the various events this spring is presenting.

So we decide to head further north, perhaps to Biscayne Bay. Our possible destination is Sands Key about mid-way up Biscayne Bay. We don't have to leave early because we still have to play the tides to ensure we have enough water to transit a few more thin spots. There are very few boats on this waterway; mostly small sport fishing boats which dart about, heading out to the innumerable flats to do bone fishing. We do come across one sailboat who we know and have a nice chat on VHF. Weather is superb and we cross several sounds and cuts and it is very peaceful. Dolphins join us for a while as we motor leisurely through these azure waters determinately towards our indeterminate destination.

In the distance we hear a distant rumble then shortly feel a tremor in the water and then see off on the horizon, what appear to be geysers in the water. At this particular point in time, we are approaching a very narrow passage which leads to one of the two bridges we have to transit today. In no time, this huge, black thundering boat charges buy us, spouting a rooster tail high into the air an with deafening sound of hundreds if not thousands of horsepower propelling this beast through the water at probably 80 miles an hour or more. We are terrified yet transfixed. We take our eyes off this quickly vanishing beast to look ahead to a horizon filled with the now tell-tale rooster tale of innumerable "cigarette boats" hot on the heals of this front runner. What started out as a scare, then a rude interruption of our peace and quite, turned out to be a compelling spectacle as probably more than thirty of these behemoths roared by us. Judy is up on deck taking pictures and waving to them. Most wave back, if you consider that putting their arms in the air at 80 mph is a somewhat risky gesture. These garishly painted and fossil fuel consumptive creatures are both obscene and fascinating. They are followed by a couple of helicopters swirling around taking pictures of them as they charge their way through what we left behind as an almost deserted and desolate waterway. Judy worries about the poor dolphins which had earlier visited us but I assure her that they can surely sense these beasts coming and will stay out of their way.

So I started to think about how much fuel these things burn and found out that they'll use up 100 gallons per hour! We figure these were heading to Key West for racing so it'd take them two hours to get there. If there were 30 of them and at that 100 gallons per hour , they would collectively consume 6,000 gallons for this short jaunt.

And as if to contrast this conspicuous consumption, shortly after the last of them pass us we were able to shut off our motor, unfurl our sails and without using a sip of fuel, make the last twenty or so miles to our destination. Now, we try not to be holier than thou but we are concerned about our carbon footprint and maybe we did some modest carbon credit offset to those fuel guzzling creatures.

The rest of the journey returned to the serenity and peace that is sailing. We got to our destination but the winds were great, the weather warm and sunny and we didn't want it to end so we kept carrying on. As the afternoon waned, we were approaching Key Biscayne but didn't want to quite make our ultimate destination, Crandon Park ,so opted to anchor off in the company of a flotilla of sail boats and power boats. To end a perfect day, we were treated to a glorious sunset and while Judy and I dined on stuffed salmon in the cockpit of our snail-slow little vessel Sea Sharp, with old boat mascot Chopin roaming around the deck, we reflected on our day of poignant contrasts!

Skinny Waters
02/25/2012

After a very pleasant evening and night at Lignum Vitae Key, we head the very short distance (8 miles) through a narrow passage to Islamorada Key. We've been here before and particularly enjoyed a funky open-air bar/restaurant called Lorelie's. So after a sphincter-tightening passage through Bowley's Cut where you look to sand banks just a few feet on either side of you, we safely arrive at Islamaorada mid morning. We anchor in the expansive harbour and note a number of derelict boats which were here two years ago as well as a few cruising boats, notably a boat with a Canadian Flag. On our way to take Chopin ashore for a walk we drop by their boat and introduce ourselves to Pierre and Renee on a proper Beneteau 35 and learn that this is their retirement cruise. It brings Judy and I back four years to when we ventured down for the first time. We invite them for dinner at Lorelie's and true to cruiser form, they accept enthusiastically.

We take poor ole Chopin for his walk then head our for a vigorous walk ourselves. We meet Pierre and Renee as promised at Lorelie's at 5 just at the start of happy hour. We have a fabulous meal while listening to great live music. Judy and I cannot resist having a dance. Then at dusk a Magician puts on a very impressive show. We have great conversation with Pierre and Renee and invite them back to Sea Sharp to continue the exchange. As has been our experience with the vast majority of cruisers, these are intelligent, engaging and interesting folks and we get to know them quite well in the couple of hours we spend with them. We know we will run across them again.

Next day is the one I dread. The twenty five miles between Islamorada and Key Largo contain a significant number of areas with very low water depths. Two years ago when we transited this section we bumped and ground several times and heard that conditions were even worse this year. But, with our membership in Tow Boat US paid up, we head out. I carefully calculated that we'd leave about two and a half hours before high tide so as to get the greatest advantage of the just under one foot tides in this part of the world. I continue to be underwhelmed with this tidal range in contrast to our 26 foot and higher tides in the Bay of Fundy. But, you take what you get.....

We leave at 8 o'clock sharp (high tide is 10:30) and sheepishly work our way through the numerous bays, sounds, creeks and cuts that constitute this part of the voyage. I admonish Judy as we near those which I know to be particularly challenging to "not speak or ask questions right now" as I concentrate on keeping Sea Sharp floating. I've set my depth alarm at 6 feet (we need five feet to keep afloat) an anxiously await that harsh electronic klaxon which signals that you've run out of water. Well, whether by good luck or good management (I'd like to consider the latter) we make the entire passage without alarm or scraping bottom. We round the last bend and head for the expansive Key Largo harbour in Buttonwood Sound, drop the anchor in front of the Marriott and quickly decompress.

It is very
warm and, of course, Judy wants to swim. We recall from two years ago that there is a very nice restaurant/bar which has a pool they make available to patrons. I launch the dinghy and shuttle Judy over. I join her an hour or so later once I'm confident that the boat is well anchored (winds are somewhat brisk). We enjoy a couple of hours poolside before returning to Sea Sharp for yet another sunset and calm evening/night.

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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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