SV Molly Bloom Adventures

Judy and Ron's Next Great Adventure!

11 March 2023 | Sunset Day One, Anclote Keys Light House
09 February 2023 | Hernando Beach, Florida
01 February 2022 | Marina La Marin, Marin, Martinique
31 December 2021 | Port Louis Marina, St. Georges, Grenada, West Indies
05 October 2021 | Hernando Beach, Florida

The Turtle Hospital at Marathonl!

20 March 2023
Judith Zellmer | Sunny, windy, 58 freaking degrees but no rain!

This turtle hospital first opened in 1986 and has become the largest sea turtle hospital in the United States. They rehabilitate injured sea turtles with the goal of releasing them back to their natural habitat, educate the public, conduct research and lobby for environmental legislation in order to make beaches and water safe for sea turtles.

There are seven types of sea turtles, all of which are endangered, and five of which are found within the Gulf of Mexico. Can you name them all?

It takes 20 years before a female is mature enough that she can produce eggs, and will return to her place of hatching to again lay eggs, guided by her instinct. Only one in 1,000 hatched turtles will survive in the wild.

Sea turtles are found all over the world, but one sea turtle, the Leatherback, is the largest sea turtle species, and can weigh up to 2,000 pounds or more ... literally the size of a Volkswagon Beetle. Leatherbacks lay their eggs in only one place on earth. Can you guess where? Here's a hint: Judy and Ron worked with a sea turtle research team there, and Judy was allowed crawl under a 1,500 pound momma to reach down into the hole to catch and count the eggs. Trust me, I watched her back flipper like a hawk because it weighed 70 pounds or more and had the strength of ... well I didn't want to find out.

Female sea turtles are driven by instinct to return to their place of hatching, and upon arrival are exhausted. It takes much effort to climb up onto the sandy beaches, dig their hole for the nest and then bury the eggs. Some say they actually go into a 'trance' but in realty they are just so exhausted they don't care what is going on around them, they just want to get the job done and get back to the water.

Should you come upon a female turtle laying her eggs, do not shine white or bright light upon them. Use red light in order not to blind or disorient them. Likewise, if you live on the waterfront, turn your lights off at night or install turtle glass so that you do not disorient the turtles.

This past winter 22 endangered sea turtles who were suffering from cold stunning were taken in and cared for at the Marathon Turtle Hospital, and once healthy released back into the environment.
A turtle shell is made from keratin, the same substance as our fingernails and hair, except for one, the Leatherback. The Leatherback shell contracts and expands to compensate for the pressure of deep diving to get to the jelly fish it feeds on.
While a turtle shell may look and feel hard, its actually very fragile. If you were to look inside the shell, you would see a spine or vertebrae running down the center, which houses nerves and blood veins and connects to other organs. It actually doesn't take a very hard impact to cause damage and injury to a turtle shell.

One of the common problems sea turtles face is known as "bubble butt" syndrome. When a turtle is impacted from say a boat strike, it can cause gas or air bubbles to be released into the shell. This bubble is not reabsorbed, but will stay under the shell for the turtle's life, and can cause the turtle to float. When a turtle cannot submerge, it cannot eat. Likewise, when a turtle cannot surface it cannot breath.

Unfortunately bubble butt cannot be 'healed' since the turtle is too fragile to perform any type of surgery to release the gas. To treat this condition, the hospital places small round weights on the turtle's back in order to level him out. This allows him to go up and down as needed. As the shell grows, the platelets on the outside of the shell are shed, and new weights must be added. For this reason, turtles with this condition may not be released back into the ocean, but rather will remain at the Turtle Hospital until a suitable rehoming with a zoo or other facility can take place.

Interestingly, turtles can survive just fine with one missing flipper, or one eye. Just like humans, they learn to compensate.
The hospital permanently houses 45 turtles, twelve of which serve as blood donors. Their blood is a very specific type only useful for turtles, and these turtles serve as donor heroes for ailing turtles all over the world.

Another common problem that affects more than 50% of all turtles, and particularly green turtles, is fibropapillomatosis, which is similar to HPV found in humans. Their research has isolated the virus and proven it is transmissible, and with this knowledge they feel they are very close to a cure.

Fibropapillomatosis presents as bumpy tumors along the soft tissue and inside the organs of the turtles. While surgeries can be performed to remove those that are on the outside surfaces of the turtles, it is a long process that can take a year or more in order not to stress the turtle. Those tumors found within the turtle cannot be removed as they are too fragile.

Pictures of turtles with both bubble butt syndrome and fibropapillomatosis are in the album if you'd like to check it out.
Intestinal blockages or impactions occur when turtles eat things humans carelessly dispose of, or fail to secure in their boat or onshore trash, such as plastic bottles or bags, balloons, fishing line, etc.

Fishing line and crab/lobster trap lines also cause entanglements that can damage or kill the turtles. Crab and lobster fishermen identify their traps by using uniform colored balls placed in a line or row. If you spot a crab/lobster ball of a non-uniform color to the rest of the line, or a ball off on its own, you may want check it out to be sure it is not an entangled turtle. Do not disturb or take a trap or its contents. If you do discover an entangled turtle, call the Coast Guard or FWC for assistance.

Have you ever hooked a turtle while fishing? Ever wonder what to do about it? We were told never try to remove the hook as you can injure the turtle. Don't leave the hook in the turtle to rust. Also, never cut the line as they can become entangled. So what do you do? Carefully follow the turtle so you don't lose them and call FWC or the Coast Guard to report the situation. They will send someone to gather the turtle and arrange transport to the hospital for proper removal and once the turtle is nursed back to health release them.

Calling FWC or the Coast Guard for assistance with an injured turtle will not cost you anything. And, if your turtle is rehabilitated and released, you will get the honor of naming the turtle!

It costs $30.00 per turtle per day to support The Turtle Hospital at Marathon. If you love turtles like we do, and want to help, there are several ways you can do so. Their giftshop sells some very nice merchandise and the proceeds help support the great work they do for the turtles. You can even adopt a turtle. Visit their website to find out more.

Sunset in the Everglades!

17 March 2023
Judith Zellmer
We motored across Tampa Bay alongside the Skyway Bridge. It was a pretty awesome view from the water. We saw a flock of kite boarders learning to ride, and one bold fellow jumped over our boat! And our mast is 60 feet high!

Crossing the shipping channel in Tampa Bay was like a squirrel trying to cross the street. One massive oil tanker going one way and one going the other … of course Ron waited until they criss-crossed and then made a run for it.

We stayed in the ICW and planned to exit at Boca Grande because our friends Rick and Cindy in St. James City told us that would be a good exit point, given that boats are still hitting cars in the water south of there. And just like that, we started to see signs of hurricane damage starting at Stump Pass, a place Ron has been before and suddenly did not recognize. One after the other, we saw homes that still had blue tarps on the roofs, blown out windows, docks and lifts destroyed.

Ron timed this trip well. On day two we anchored off Sarasota, and on day three he planned to be in the State Park at Boca Grande. We made both stops in the nick of time, with our weather window closing.

The ICW was beautiful and interesting, with all the massive homes lining the waterway, and interspersed with 'normal sized' homes. It surprised me to see so much natural seawall material ... rocks and mangroves. I had no idea that people manicured and sculpted the red mangroves, and left the black mangroves to grow up through them. They were quite beautiful. On one such strip of mangroves we saw so much wildlife ... loons, flocks of pelicans and flocks of pink flamingoes. Check the photo album section for a video of a flamingo in flight.

Seas were 2-3 feet, wind on the nose. We motored all day.
When we made it to Naples we had planned to try and get a reciprocity slip at the Naples Yacht Club. They didn’t even return my phone call, so we picked up a mooring ball at the Naples City Marina, right in front of what we called Mega Yacht Row at the yacht club. We had the yacht basin all to ourselves, and the water was like glass. We happily grilled hot dogs and watched the hoity toity partying on their multi-million dollar yachts.

Day four was nice sailing all the way to Shark River inlet, Everglades National Park. There was another cat anchored in there so we felt it was a good choice, but at some point I asked Ron if he was more concerned about the crocodiles or the snakes – he said nope, drug smugglers. At some point I thought I saw a big spot light out there, but told myself it was the Coast Guard patrolling. I didn’t sleep well that night, not only because I was waiting to be boarded but because the wind had kicked up and the seas were rolly, but we survived all the perils and got up at sunrise to continue our trip south to Marathon and the crab balls.

And oh the crab balls! It took two of us watching constantly to maneuver through the mine field of lines of crab and lobster balls, and was exhausting.

And finally, land ho! We spotted the Seven Mile Bridge in Marathon, which we passed under to get to Marathon City Marina and the mooring field where we currently are.

This is a beautiful facility (right across US Highway A1A from the Marathon Yacht Club). They provide free bicycles for us to use, basket ball, tennis and pickle ball courts, picnic tables inside and out, free internet – all the amenities including free pump out once a week if we are here that long.

The one thing they don’t have is a map of the mooring ball field that is legible on the internet. I looked diligently because the young girl on the phone could not tell me where ball J-7 was located, even though we were holding right smack in front of it.

Now this marina has two mooring ball fields, containing 230 balls split between two mooring sections, surrounded and intertwined between shoaling. The girl did tell us to be very careful, but since the wind had alredy picked up to 26 knots we really didn't need her to tell us that, just where the darn ball was. T

We cruised around between balls looking for numbers that have long since worn out, and several helpful yachties called to us trying to point the way. As Ron was checking in, he noticed they had pulled all the big bouy markers and were reapplying bigger, legible numbers.

We initially thought we’d be waiting for a weather window on Sunday, but now it appears the next best window will be next Friday. No worries … its calm and peaceful in here, and plenty to see and do while we wait.

Here’s a trivia question for you. We passed under high fixed bridges, two swing bridges (one of which the bridge tender had to run out onto the bridge to open for us), and a third type of bridge – a bascule bridge. Who can tell me how that works?

If you’re enjoying our adventure, Ron says please send money and drop us a note in the comments.


Day One is Done!

11 March 2023 | Sunset Day One, Anclote Keys Light House
Judith Zellmer
We started our journey to the Bahamas about 1:00 p.m. on March 11, 2023. Why so late you ask? Because we have to come in and out of our neighborhood canal at high tide. Molly is so wide, we need to wait until the tide is well above the rock walls of the channel.

As we got closer to Anclote Island, the crab traps got thicker and it was a game of dodge the trap balls ... opps, no that was a Loon head bobbing! Reminded me of Sharon and Andy's story from a few years ago. As they were coming back from the Bahamas, they snagged several crab traps in their props. Andy shut off the engines and anchored, and looked below at the tangled mess. Normally he would have dove down to cut all the lines, but they were in the Everglades and he was a bit concerned about what was down there. Turns out Tow Boat US will come out to your boat in the Everglades, but you have to provide the diver. Not much danger of alligators where we are now, but we do want to avoid the tangled mess anyway.

We had relatively light winds today, but were able to sail most of the way to Anclote Island, where we are currently anchored for the night. There are two other sailboats here, along with a couple of cabin cruisers and a dredging barge. We'll get up with the sun tomorrow I suppose and begin our journey south. Captain Ron wants to make it as far south as possible before the cold front comes through on Monday. With seas projected at 4 to 5 feet, we'll stay in the intercoastal as far as possible, then see if we need to hole up until the weather passes. We do have Netflix!

Fast forward One Year!

09 February 2023 | Hernando Beach, Florida
Judith Zellmer | Sun setting with a balmy 76 degree breeze.
Time flies when you get older! Both of my dear children are learning this.

Sooooooo much has happened in the year since Martinique! The good news is that we toured everything we wanted to see in Martinique and I filled Molly with hundreds of dollars worth of yummy French wine and rhum, intended as gifts for friends and family. The bad news will become evident further in my story. Patrick and Sean ... pay attention!

Because of Covid we had to carefully choose which islands we wanted to visit. Next stop? St. Maarten! But not before illegally entering and over-nighting in both Dominica and St. Kitts. Due to Covid restrictions the usually accepted routine of raising the quarantine flag to stop and rest or make repairs had been forbidden. Others had told us to radio ahead to announce intentions but it was hit or miss whether they allowed you to stop for a respite or their coast guard escorted you out of their territorial waters. St. Kitts in particular was iffy since they were having issues with human trafficking. So we snuck in under cover of darkness, slept a few hours and snuck out before daylight with the planned ‘excuse’ of engine trouble, which wasn’t so far off base. Nevertheless, all worked out well and we made haste for St. Maarten, where we planned to meet up with friends for dinner.

We actually planned to stay longer, but unfortunately we had to try to out-run a sudden storm and the rough seas (seriously … 18 foot seas!) did my hip in. I learned what it means to ‘pray without ceasing’ that trip, not only for the pain in my hip but for the waves crashing over the boat. But again, Captain Ron was my hero and we arrived safely in St. Maarten. At this point the pain in my hip was so bad we knew I would not be able to make the remainder of the sail and sadly arranged for flights home and a delivery captain to bring Molly back to Florida.

Interestingly enough, while in line at the fuel dock in St. Maarten, a man in a dinghy pulled up along side us yelling Molly! Are you really Molly Bloom?! Ron and I looked at each other and laughed. Over the years many islanders called me Molly thinking she was named after me. I never corrected them, not wanting to go into the whole story. But this man was insistent and knew the story of Molly Bloom! We talked and laughed for a while, since his boat was in line behind us, and told him ‘the rest of the story.’ If you have an interest, Netflix has the movie ‘Molly’s Game’ showing right now. Take some time and watch it, and you will know who our boat is really named after. If you want to hear the rest of the story, leave me a comment, give me a hint that you have watched the movie, and if there is enough interest I will tell it.

I use the title ‘delivery captain’ loosely because this man should never be allowed to captain another person’s boat. After less than 24 hours of his trip, he messaged me asking how to get the generator started. Many messages and instructions later, he couldn’t do it. Then it was the inverter. Then the water maker. At this point, knowing we had filled both holding tanks with fresh water I told him where the bottled water was, wondering how he’d run out of 100 gallons of fresh water in less than 24 hours. He told me that they had plenty to drink and were just trying to do laundry … thankfully, he didn’t figure out the water maker and so the washing machine was saved. But it was the ONLY thing on the boat he did not break in transit.

The main sheet batons were all snapped in half … how does one do that? Every system in the boat was broken in some fashion. But the absolute worst thing? He drank all of my French wine … every drop. If I ever see that man again, he will be swinging from the yardarm!

Over the past year, we have spent hundreds if not thousands of Boat Bucks making repairs. To top it off, a neighbor plowed into the starboard side of Molly at full throttle. The good news is that the hole was above the water line. The bad news is that it was on the starboard side. Had it been the port side, I would have had a whole new galley ala their insurance! Nevertheless, that was the excuse to put in new granite countertops and back splashes in the galley, and a few other upgrades.

One such upgrade was purchasing a SailRite industrial sewing machine. I’ve taught myself how to do upholstery, and have recovered the two forward bedroom cushions and am almost finished with the cushions in the saloon. Molly is spiffed up and a with all of Ron’s woodwork improvements she is a whole new girl, ready to take on our next adventure.

We are in the planning stages and beginning to provision for our extended trip to the Bahamas! Our plan is to make our way south along the coast of Florida and cross the Gulf Stream from Marathon some time in March.

Stay tuned!


We made it to Martinique!

01 February 2022 | Marina La Marin, Marin, Martinique
Judith Zellmer | Sunny and a breezy 83 degrees
We have arrived in Martinique!

We left Grenada on 27 January 2022, about 11:00 a.m. with a tearful au revoir (goodbye until we see each other again!) to dear friends and our adopted second home of so many years. We spent the first night at anchor in Terrell Bay, Carriacou and then up early to sail through the night and arrive in Martinique by 10:00 a.m. on Saturday, 29 January 2022.

We slept for about 24 hours, getting up briefly to go to a nearby cruiser’s bar expecting the much longed for and anticipated delicious French food … I’ll spare you the detail, but it did not live up to any expectation. The good news is we learned the first place we don’t have to go back!

We are in Marina La Marin, and it is a huge, gorgeous marina! Clear water; much better than Port Louis. This is quite the playground! While waiting to be piloted to our slip, we watched jet skiers, kite gliders, water skiers, little pram sailors learning like ducks in a row, and the yachts! So many huge catamarans! A pirate ship at the end of our dock!

We have not been able to get very far to explore yet, but what we have learned so far:

When they say ‘yes we have 110 power,’ they’re lying. Thankfully we have solar and the temperature is cool enough (76 degrees) to not need air conditioning.

Men rely on hammers to fix things in any language!

French women are more rude than French men (they will push you out of their way if you do not move fast enough!)

How to use Google Translate (Ron still likes the pictures)

We never again need to have emmental cheese on our pizza.

Merci beaucoup! Patisserie (yumm)! Rhum! Wee wee! Au revoir!

Ron loves to inform people that watching the movie “Captain Ron” is a requirement on our boat, and we never tire of watching the antics in the movie. I think Ron also gets a good chuckle over people assuming he’s just like the fictional Captain Ron, but to set the record straight, Ron is one of the most capable captains, sailing or motoring, I’ve come across over the past ten years and I trust him with my life on the sea. He is truly in his element aboard a sailing vessel or motorboat. It’s the land that gives him fits.

For example. Ten years ago when I first came to Grenada and he picked me up in his car, he handed me the seat belt strap and said ‘hold this.’ Turned out the seatbelt was broken and could not be fastened, so to fool the police and not get a ticket for violating the seat belt law (one of the few laws in Grenada) I had to hold it in my left hand across myself. Then we took off for a ride I liken to “Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride” at Disney World.
The roads are not well maintained and signs stating “broken road” are everywhere. They are also amazingly narrow and often have sheer rock cliffs on one side with a straight drop down to the sea on what always seems to be my side. The few guard rails that exist are pretty darn sketchy too. Being used to driving in a third world country Ron took off at a brisk clip yelling “Hold on Nelly!” as we careened up and down steep hills and sharp curves, throwing me from one side to the other. At some point Ron warned me not to lean on the car door because it tends to pop open. I envisioned myself being thrown out of the car and into the sea, but Ron assured me the trees would break my fall. After a bit of time I resigned myself to the fact that I was going to die flying out the window, through the air and into the trees, and once I made peace with that, things we fine. Sort of.

Now it happens that I still cannot walk distances because of my hip injury, and so I thought it a good idea to rent a car in Martinique to see the sights. People do it all the time, and by now I am quite used to Ron's island driving. To be honest, though, I was secretly happy when Ron balked at driving a car in a foreign county where he couldn’t understand the language. To solve the transportation issue, we rented a wheelchair and off we went. Quite literally.

We are positioned on a floating dock, with a ramp up to the street at the end, so Ron thought to get a running start at the ramp, apparently thinking the wheelchair would magically jump the bump like he jumps curbs on his bike. Didn’t work that way. I’m sure the people sitting in the bar watching us had a nice belly laugh. Then on down the broken roads we went, because there are few sidewalks. Plenty of speed bumps though, and more holes, dirt roads with mud puddles and big rocks. Unfortunately Ron was busy sightseeing and not watching for big rocks or even mud puddles. When I would yell stop he didn’t seem to hear me, so I learned to use my cane to help guide him, especially when we came to curbs. And on we went, until we found shops to browse in with aisles too narrow to push me through. At one point Captain Ron parked me facing a wall and wandered off … which I didn’t realize until the third time calling his name without answer.

Obviously we survived our first outing, but I’ve lined up a tour guide to drive us around for two days to sightsee. His name is Brian, and he is a friend of a friend here. We’ve been chatting for a few days lining up our schedule. We did not realize there are nine rum plantations here on Martinique, and since Ron is a very big rum (spelled rhum in French) aficionado I thought he would enjoy touring at least two of the best. So I left it with Brian to choose, who promptly informed me he is Irish and drinks anything. I advised him I’m also Irish and I know the words to every song. He then suggested we forego the island tour and go straight to the bars and drink and sing the night away. Stay tuned for our decision!

Old Years Night ... 2021

31 December 2021 | Port Louis Marina, St. Georges, Grenada, West Indies
Judith Zellmer | Sunny and Warm!
Here in Grenada ... yes, we are still in Grenada! ... they celebrate this night as "Old Years Night" simply meaning the last night of the year.

And what a year it has been! We are happy to celebrate out with the old and in with the new! We are still unsure of what the 'new' will be, since Covid is still wreaking havoc here in the Carribbean and around the globe, but we have become accustomed to it and learning to take each day at a time.

We have spent the last two and a half months here in Grenada making repairs to the sailboat. If you are a dirt dweller who has never taken their boat out to sea, you may not know that boats do not like to sit on the hard and be ignored. They will break everything they can think of just to spite you.

Once we finally splashed in mid-October, we spent several weeks just cleaning and organizing. Everything on the boat (and I mean EVERYTHING) had been pulled out and reloaded (many heart felt thanks to Dirk and Sue for their untiring help over the course of three days in that horrible task.) Ron even donated an old transmission he's been carrying around for years, if you can believe that! Don't ask me where he stored it ... he's got so many nooks and crannies you wouldn't know it was here if I hadn't just told you.

Anyway, present day ... ish. Ron and our friend Heinz tried to put the new Genoa sail up, and discovered that the roller furler needed new bearings. Best to get that fixed now before we leave and have an issue at sea, so we are waiting for Turbulance to come next week and take it down (its 60 feet tall), replace the bearings, and put it all back up. They will check all the rigging while they are doing that and then ... we think ... finally we will be ready to set sail!

In the meantime, we are enjoying visiting with so many long-time friends here in Grenada, and the beautiful weather and of course the food!

Wishing you a safe Old Years Night, and a Happy New Years Day.

Judy and Ron
Vessel Name: Molly Bloom
Vessel Make/Model: Lagoon 37 tpi
Hailing Port: Fajardo, Puerto Rico / Hernando Beach, Florida
Crew: Captain Ron Zellmer and First Mate Judy Zellmer
Have you seen the movie 'Captain Ron?' Its required viewing onboard Molly Bloom, and gives our own Captain Ron a chuckle to let people think he's the inspiration for the character. In reality, he's a seasoned, life-time sailor who has earned the love and respect of everyone he meets. [...]
Extra: Call Sign: WDF6378 / MMSI: 367473630
Molly Bloom's Photos - Main
20 Photos
Created 11 March 2023
Adventures in Martinique
1 Photo
Created 1 February 2022
Pictures of Molly, somewhere in the world ...
1 Photo
Created 5 October 2021