A little bit of weather and a cranky, actually not cranking, bowthruster will keep us here until Friday morning. While pulling into the fuel dock yesterday in a building breeze, the bowthruster decided to quit. We put some diesel in the tanks and settled in at Calvert Marine's transient dock for the evening expecting to leave early this morning to beat the forecast. Unfortunately the front is moving in faster than predicted so we decided to take a pass on the anticipated t-storms and start our post-commissioning relaxation early. With extra time on my hands, I looked into the thruster problem and found one of the battery terminals completely melted off. Obviously, something is not cricket there and since I am generally considered a hazard around electrical thingies, a pro is coming in the morning to check out the charging system and install a new battery. So, after giving PRIM a much needed bath today, I'm on schedule for a nap. Tough duty. We will still get to Fishing Bay for the BBQ and some of Charles's fabulous home-grown tomatos.
08/02/2010, Trtacys Landing, MD
We are finally ready to rock and roll. Well, rock yes. Roll is not allowed as long as the stabilizers do their thing. Tomorrow morning the new PRIM will head for Solomons Island, then Fishing Bay Harbor in Deltaville. We expect to stay in D-ville for about a week then boogy to Dowry Creek in North Carolina where we are excited about seeing Al, Jen and Miss Bridget on Close Knit and spending a month or so in the beautiful marina Mary keeps for everyone to enjoy.
07/15/2010, Tracys Landing, MD
For those who have, rightly so, noted that we haven't made an entry on this blog since (yeegads!) February, here goes...
We have moved. A seed was planted last August when we met a couple on a beautiful Grand Banks 46 in Fishing Bay Harbor, Virginia. I had a brief talk with Jim and Joanne on 'Long Haul' when they stopped overnight on their way south. During the course of the usual "How are ya's" and "Where you goin's", I asked Jim about the fuel consumption on their GB46. Jim admitted he used to burn upwards of 10gph back in the good old days when prices were reasonable, but he proudly said he backed off on the rpm's and improved the fuel burn down to 4gph, still moving along well at 8-9 knots. His big Cat naturals don't seem to mind and he is pleased with the economy. That got me to thinking...which can always be a problem.
Pokey and I had looked at power boats a few years back but the rise in fuel prices scared us off. At the time, everyone seemed to be running 10 to 20 gallons and hour so the costs were prohibitive to us. Besides, after 50 years of racing I still had some sailing left in me so we decided on our Freedom 45 and loved it. We cruised on Chesapeake Bay and came to realize how much we wanted to live aboard for long periods of time. Now, a few years and medical oopsies later, we find our needs, wants and limitations have changed so the time had come to consider a different direction.
Not long after we finally moved aboard our Freedom 45 a little over a year ago, Pokey spontaneously announced she couldn't imagine moving back ashore. I was thrilled, partly because I knew how much 'stuff' I had just put in storage, but mostly because the Admiral is happy and comfortable on the water and she deserves the best. Add all that to more living and storage space, sensible costs and our new found love of the ICW and Palm Coast, FL and we were off to the races.
Many evenings were spent online searching for the right boat for us. We pestered brokers and tromped aboard a variety of boats to test our theories and see what was out there. Our search settled on the Defever 44 for its quality, interior layout and the most fantastic aft deck on the market in our range. The main salon, galley and lower helm station are on the same level so we can enjoy more time together while underway. Stabilizers remove most of the rock and roll. With twin engines plus a bow thruster, I should be able to park it on a dime, well, maybe a half dollar (do they still make those?). Actually, until I get more confident with this thing, it's more like a trash can lid. Two big generators ensure that our toaster will spit out my english muffins on time every morning at anchor, mooring or pier. The engine room is huge and has almost full standing head room allowing access to the mechanicals far beyond this sailor's experience. No more bending around like a pretzel with my feet in a galley locker, skinning my knuckles on out-of-sight sharp objects, my head in the bilge, or stuffed in a lazarette wishing for longer arms, vice-like fingers and dislocated elbows. Unfortunately, there go most of my excuses, too!
On the way south last fall we managed to board a couple of Defevers and decided the 44 design fit our likes and needs best although one we saw was not in very good condition. The only thing left was finding the right one for us. When we pulled into Palm Coast on Thanksgiving Day there were two of them in the marina, one of which was for sale. We became friends with the owners of one and they confirmed what we were learning about Defevers and took a look at the one for sale. It was well over our budget but very nicely kept. We found out later it had a major issue that is being taken care of but it is still on the market. By the time we returned to Palm Coast in February, our new friends Peter and Sandy Swift had decided to move up from their 44 to a Defever 57 and asked if we were still interested. Ah, the dilemma. Who in their right mind wants two boats?!
As much as we've loved her, we spiffed and polished PRIM and she went on the market. Three Bronx cheers for this great economy. No sale yet but she's probably the best one on the market in her bracket and priced very well. Anyone out there looking for an excellent island cruiser/liveaboard in true turn-key condition can take a look at her on Yachtworld or call Meg Goncalves at Yacht Brokers of Palm Coast. Somebody out there is going to get a h_ _ _ of a deal. Here's why:
We are now the proud owners of the Defever 44 formerly known as 'Knot So Swift'. Three weeks ago we sucked it up, finalized the deal and moved aboard in Arnold, MD where she had been returned to in April. I figured if Wall Street was going to swallow my money as fast as it has been doing lately, we might as well park it in a good deal that will save us a few bucks over time. The old PRIM will sell soon enough. Meanwhile we have moved aboard the new PRIM and are currently in Herrington Harbor North while we finish minor repairs and additions and await our documentation papers. We will soon be heading south to visit friends in Fishing Bay then on to North Carolina for some serious R&R with our Sailblog friends Al, Jen and Miss Bridget on 'Close Knit' and enjoy Mary's hospitality at Dowry Creek Marina. We will keep an eye on the weather for a break to continue to our new home port in Palm Coast. 'Bye Maryland. Keep your cold and dreary winters, your crazy traffic, and your taxes. Hello Florida! where handicap parking is everywhere.
On a personal note, we are almost finished with our own surveys. My 'annual inspection' went very well and the Admiral has already gotten one very good report. We have a couple more appointments to get through and maybe a tweak or two but we and our docs are very pleased so far. All in all, living aboard has been "bery, bery good for us". We love it and we're better for it.
Well, that's my story for now and I'm stickin' to it. Now that the dam is broken, I'll be more attentive to 'Til The Butter Melts'.
02/15/2010, Palm Coast
PRIM has got her groove back. We are at Palm Coast for a couple months enjoying the wonderful folks here. After six weeks of cold weather we are finally able to take our mittens off so we thought we would blog. We took a break from the cold weather and boatyard work in St. Augustine to visit some of Pete's relatives and see the Gulf Coast of Florida. We also snuck in a peak at the trawler show in Stuart. The highways in Florida are great but some of them resemble the Daytona 500. These are 70+ people going 70+ mph but you can get to your destination rather quickly. Once you're on a main highway, there is usually a median strip, beautifully landscaped, but they make you do U-turns all the time. It's a great system unless you're looking for something on the other side of the road. If you undershoot, you're stuck with at least two more U-turns. But wait! This sounds like we're complaining. We're not. There's no snow and we're happy to be here. Our friends and neighbors back home are still digging out from four feet of snow and ice. (heheheheh)
Our first stop was in Bradenton to see cousin Lynn and her husband Mike Carr. Pete hadn't seen her in years since she made the move to the Sun State and they were like glued together in high school. Lynn and Mike have a beautiful little home one block from the gulf and are living the good life as only Lynn and Mike can. She treated us to a wonderful BBQ complete with red and white Zweigle Hot Dogs! If you've never been to Sea Breeze's Hot Dog Row in Rochester, NY, they are the best dogs anywhere in the world, bar none. We watched a little football on the big screen, took a walk along the waterfront, and made plans to hook up again before we head back north.
The next day we visited Pete's Uncle Randy and Merrie, both widowed and living in Englewood. Uncle Randy is 92 years young now and is the last of the trio of brave young men that married the Kerwin girls; Pete's mother and her sisters June and Shirley, all Irish redheads. Uncle Randy, who looks and acts nowhere near 92, is actually the guy who sparked Pete's interest in sailing many, many years ago. He was a top grade navigator and instructor at the Strasenburg Planetarium in Rochester. We spent a great afternoon reminiscing about the family, sailing and travels. Merrie is a wonderful lady who keeps Randy in line, no easy task in itself, shares his love of travel, and they are looking forward to their next cruise this spring. A complete surprise came as we were leaving. Uncle Randy presented Pete with his sextant saying he'd been planning to do that for years since Pete was the only one in the family to carry on the sailing life he so loved. Pete was stunned.
Our next trip was to Orlando to meet with Pete's nephew Patrick, a great guy and a financial guru you can really trust. We had a terrific dinner with him at Johnny's in Orlando and talked and laughed way past our intended leave time. It was hard to go but we made a date to meet him, his beautiful wife Katie and their kids when we visit his mom's place in West Palm next month.
Both of our families are scattered across the country so it has been a real pleasure to visit with so many this past year. My sister Sue and her husband Bob are nearby in Debary so we are able to hook up with rather frequently. In fact, we're having lunch with them again tomorrow. With a little luck, brother Andy and Dottie from California will get to spend some time on the right coast this spring and we will of course stop in at Folly Beach again on the way north to see sister Cindy and her gang. Hey, Carlon Gang! The San Fran bunch. You're up!
This next story falls under, "It's a small world" category. We were driving down A1A from St. Augustine to Palm Coast. On the one small spot along the way that the road and ICW run adjacent to each other, we spotted some familiar mustard yellow canvas coming up the waterway. We pulled over, jumped out of the car, waved like mad hatters and yelled as loud as we could. It was s/v JOURNEY, returning north from their trip to the islands. We were certain they thought we were just a couple nuts, and maybe we were, but who cares? We sent them an email and a photo that evening and, sure enough, they were holed up in St. Augustine recovering from a severe squall that nearly did them in just above the Crescent Beach Bridge, not even an hour after we'd seen them. This is the beauty of Sailblogs: you meet and communicate with people online for months that you never see in person and then, all of a sudden, there they are right in front of you and it's like meeting old friends. We had a great time with Martha and Al over dinner at the Columbia in St. Augustine.
To round out the month of January, we had dinner once again with Terri and Larry from Jacksonville (remember Ponte Vedra?). They will be leaving in April for an extended cruise south and we hope to rendezvous again with them by land or sea.
We had to make a command decision after leaving the boatyard in St. Augustine. The cold weather and our two month delay for repairs have changed our plans of moving further south this year. Also, having the car here has allowed us freedom to travel around the state that we had not expected. So now we're back at Palm Coast Marina, one of our favorite places. Friends Peter and Sandy on KNOT SO SWIFT are here and we made another run with them to Benedetto's for an excellent Italian dinner. Also here are Jim and Joanne whom we first met in Fishing Bay, then again in New Bern, and we continue to meet new friends: Jim and Cindy from Texas, Ron and Doris from Long Island, John, Al, his son Nico, et al. Debbie, Ro and the staff at the marina are the best ever. Meg, besides being just a sweetheart of a lady, is our broker and is the hardest working, most pleasurable broker we've ever met. And to top it all off, Palm Coast is beautiful. The marina is friendly, quiet and well situated on a canal off the waterway.
We stay in touch with Al and Jennifer on s/v Ruth and are looking forward to their new venture (and new puppy). We may be trawling together this summer. They are another Sailblogger couple that we have yet to meet in person but feel like family. Blackie and Red are also looking forward to meeting their new cousin.
Here's hoping wherever you are you are safe and warm.
(Geasy peasy. I just read back through this. You'd think we'd look like balloons for all the going out to dinner we do.)
From Pete: Yes, PRIM is for sale. We have a mixed bag of feelings about that since she is a gorgeous boat that we have enjoyed immensely, but it is the right decision for us. Initially, we had planned to take one ten month trip south and see how we liked it and then go back home to regroup. After only a few weeks on board we realized living on the water is what we want to do for the next few years, or at least until the white coats come down the dock for me. We love it. We also realized we are most taken with coastal and inland cruising. As a couple, we are no longer interested in taking long shots offshore and love the scenery and camaraderie along the inland route. In addition, we recognize we are not twenty anymore either so I'd like to know a good doctor is within reach when we need them. To continue this lifestyle, it is time for us to move to a trawler and get serious about seeing more of this country. After fifty-plus years of racing in boats from dinghies to 103' schooners, I am putting my sailing gloves aside with no regrets whatsoever. I have made a life of sailing, making life-long friends and putting untold satisfying hours of effort in making a boat sail as fast as I can in any conditions. Now, I look forward to an air conditioned helm seat when I want it, a recliner in the main salon at night and new adventures only a trawler can afford us. So, anyone looking for an excellent, loaded offshore cruiser in ready-to-go condition, come on down. We've priced her for quick sale so we can get on with the rest of our cruising life as soon as possible.
01/10/2010, St. Augstine
...but everyone between Hudson Bay and the equator knows that already.
I take back everything I said about Algore (well, not everything). The ice caps are moving. Problem is, they've landed on the beach in Florida. The high yesterday was in the 30's and today we have to winterize Prim because overnight temps are heading for the teens. Winterize, in Florida??? We're thinking class action suit vs. the Chamber of Commerce for false advertising. Friends of ours are heading home to Canada to get warm. Iguanas are falling out of trees like cartoon characters. Birds are thinking, "We flew 2,000 miles for this???" Margaritaville is one big frozen daiquiri. Disney World has bought the rights for Santa's new North Pole and it actually snowed in Miami! Stick that in your Copenhagen, boys and girls. The only positive I can think of is if this keeps up, Hell might actually freeze over, too. That ought to please my grandfather. He thought there was a shortage of help in Heaven but he only had devastating world wars and massive depressions to contend with, long before the bar was lowered by do-good politicians.
On a grateful note, we are settled into a third floor condo for the time being, overlooking the Royal St. Augustine golf course. The course is turning brown from the frost and lack of rain, but it still beats living on the hard, freezing in the boatyard. I haven't seen anybody out there with big fluffy snow bunny boots yet. Do they come with golf spikes? I don't think so. Having a washer/dryer in the unit is a big plus because we're going through sox like crazy, both pairs. It's funny, at home when a blizzard is forecast, the stores empty out of toilet paper and bread. Here, it's Campbell's soup and sox. The only scarves around here came in the bottom of some snowbird's last resort suitcase. Good thing we have doxie heaters to snuggle with.
I suppose these weather conditions should be considered minor to a northerner, certainly compared to what is actually happening across most of the country. However, there can be serious side effects in the sunshine state. Central heating units in many Florida homes are just not intended for extended cold, so there has been an increase in fires from faulty or overtaxed space heaters. The citrus crops are taking a beating as you all hear on the news so expect the cost of mixed drinks to go up. Maybe they can forego the umbrellas as a hedge against inflation. Besides, those tiny umbrellas are sort of stupid when you're sitting there bundled up in sweaters, hoodies, jackets, gloves and fur ear flaps.
As you've probably noticed, Pokey started this post with all good intention, but my anti-cold cynicism crept into the mix somewhere around Copenhagen. That's what she gets for asking me to type this. For several years while planning this adventure, I never expected to be looking out over a frozen golf course waiting for the frost to clear off our Buick below while the boatyard awaits warmer weather to begin repairs and my only other pair of sox are still in the dryer.
It is 87 in Rio de Janiero today. Hmmmmm.
No snickers, please. Priim was hauled yesterday for repairs and we moved off to a condo for the month. Not bad timing I suppose - it will be below freezing here every night for the next millenium. Daytime temps will struggle to get out of the 40's if at all. The other night, it was warmer in Alaska. Who'da thunk you'd have to winterize a boat in Forida?!
Gotta get to Walmart for more sox....and some ear muffs, and a scarf, and snow pants, fluffier gloves, and, and... !@$%^&*/ ...Then back to the recliner in the living room(!) and a pile of cheap paperbacks.
Nelleke, good luck offshore today. You might have to make Brazil before you can ditch the woolies.
01/02/2010, New Smryna
Drat, I had to rummage through some drawers this morning to find my sox. It's nippy here, but yesterday's rain and boomers have stopped and there is none of that white stuff on the ground. We are so happy (snigger, snigger) for our kids in Upstate NY and Massachusetts who have forecasts of blizzard conditions, snow, and more snow. Enjoy.
We are leaving New Smyrna this morning, returning to Palm Coast for an overnight and a visit with Peter and Sandy on Knot So Swift. On Sunday, we will be back in St. Augustine for our month on the hard for repairs and condo living. A bed that can't rock me to sleep - that'll be different.
A very Merry Christmas to our family and friends in Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania, New York, Massachusetts, California, North and South
Carolina, Georgia, Vancouver and London, and all of our new friends, bloggers and readers on Sailblogs. We wish you all the very best.
We spent a wonderful Christmas Eve with another of Pokey's sisters, Suzanne, and her husband Bob. Christmas Day will no doubt include numerous phone calls with the kids and grandkids, sisters, brother, cousins and friends. Somehow we will work in lunch at the Riverview with Sue and Bob and a walk down Flagler Avenue, the historic district of New Smyrna Beach. For all of you northies giving your snow shovel a short break for the holiday, we have to say, Christmas isn't quite the same without snow - it's fantastic.
The Admiral offers this to one and all:
Twas the night before Christmas
And all through the marina
We were grateful for not facing a hurricane Katrina
The stockings were hung on the lifelines with care
Hoping Santa and his jet ski would soon be there
We settled down to an evening below
Grateful we were not surrounded by snow
Blackie and Red snuggled in for the night
The water was calm, the stars were bright
All of a sudden the boat started to rock
Back and forth coming close to the dock
We flew from the cabin and got out on deck
We took Blackie and Red and thought, "What the heck?"
When what to our wondering eyes would appear
Christmas dolphins and Santa with fishing gear
The dolphins were laughing and jumping with glee
And Blackie and Red were looking for a tree
Santa was smiling and gave us a nod
He'd hooked lots of presents on his fishing rod
You've been very good sailors all this year
So I thought I'd stop by to wish you good cheer!
In a twinkling he finished and then he drove off
We thought to ourselves, "Who are we to scoff?"
He turned round as he left and said, "One moment please.
I wish you fair winds and following seas!"
We finally got the nod from the insurance company to forge ahead with PRIM's nose job. We assembled the requisite estimates, then visited the yards to see their facilities and work. I was most impressed with St. Augustine Marine Center and their estimate was complete and very competitive. Boats is familiar with their work and said they agreed with my choice. They will get the paperwork done ASAP so we can start Jan 1 and hopefully be back in the water by Feb 1.
Now all I have to do is find a place for Pokey, the boyz and I to rent for the month that is reasonably close enough to the yard. Six months of living aboard plus 1100 miles of ICW travel, marinas and anchorages are beginning to show on our beautiful PRIM. This a good opportunity to get the brightwork back in line, apply lots of elbow grease to the topsides and generally spruce things up while Pokey works on taxes (believe me, I got the better part of that deal).
Of course, high season for snowbird rentals starts Jan 1. My usual good timing... great.
Well, we finally made it to our December location, the Riverview Hotel & Marina, on time, Dec 1. The marina is small, only six slips or so and we are currently one of two boats here for the duration. It was a little dicey coming in because the current wasn't cooperating with the tide chart but that's nothing new. Lots of following current coming into the pier but we made it without adding another ding to the bow. It's interesting how quickly people step up to help with lines when they see that big bandage on our nose! I wish I could find some of that white duct tape. Grey is so obvious.
On the way here, Pokey got to see her friendly dolphin up close. He/she jumped several times right next to the cockpit, scaring the tar out of the boyz but thrilling us no end. What beautiful animals they are. Powerful, sleek and graceful.
The hotel is a beautiful Victorian building that was originally the bridge tender's house dating to the pre-1900s. Today, it stands in its near-original form but all spruced up as a small, class-act hotel. The staff is very accommodating and the restaurant is fabulous. The location couldn't be better either - we're right in the middle of the historic district of New Smyrna with lots of cool little shops around and we're only four blocks from the beach. Dolphins play in the channel and around the docks and there is a manatee rolling around the marina. If it ever stops raining here, I'll get out there and have a chat with her (him?).
We took the boyz to a local vet for their annuals and a nail trim, Pokey got her hair cut and we managed a quickie run through Publix for supplies, all via local cab. Actually, one of the vet assistants drove the boyz and me to meet Pokey at the store. She didn't want me to have to walk the boyz across the four-lane highway. I didn't have the heart to say "Walk? I'd have to carry them anyway." Carole, our mail forwarder and best gal friday, jumped at the chance to drive our car here (there's snow in the forecast for Maryland today). She should arrive late this evening. It will be nice to have wheels again, especially since we'll be here for up to two months, and that plus the repair calendar may change our cruising plans a bit. We can now drive to some places we would not get to by boat, not to mention frequent flyer runs to the hardware store ;-)
Yes, two months. One for the holidays and another for PRIM's nose job. It looks like we will haul out here in New Smyrna for that work to be done. Pokey and I will move ashore for January while they grind away, glass, patch, fill, grind some more and finally paint. Still not sure if the pulpit is salvageable or not but that will be done as well and we'll be in good shape again. We are gathering estimates and looking for a place. It's not a happy thought moving ashore for awhile but it's the sensible thing to do. I will also be able to take care of some other jobs I've been putting off, like varnish(!) and wax. The old girl is starting to look a little rough around the edges and needs a facial.
Mike Edwards, from Virginia, drove over from Wildwood where he is visiting his son and we had a great lunch at the Grille here and took a drive on the beach. It's always good to see Mike. Pokey's sister Sue and her husband Bob have arrived back in Florida for the winter so we'll be seeing them shortly.
So, we're coming into our favorite time of year. This time there won't be any snow in our forecast and the only ice I'll have to contend with will be in my tea. We'll be stringing lights and decorating a tree on deck in New Smyrna and I'll hang the stockings on the A/C vent.