s/v Angel & Workboat 54

A lady sailing her boat & working as a mobile, marine mechanic.

19 June 2015 | The remote backcountry of Florida Bay
07 June 2015 | Ten Thousand Islands
03 June 2015 | Florida Keys
21 December 2014 | Florida Everglads, 10,000 Islands
14 December 2014 | PART I OF II
31 October 2014 | Small Island City
10 October 2014 | Quintana Roo, Mexico
26 September 2014 | Eluethera, Bahamas
27 August 2014 | Bahamas
02 July 2014 | Miami
22 April 2014 | Card Sound, Upper Florida Keys
13 April 2014 | Johnston Key Channel, Florida Keys
11 April 2014 | South Florida

Fish Catches Man

19 June 2015 | The remote backcountry of Florida Bay
Raining Fish
Photo: Neil, his Cape Dory Astrid, and the kayak cruising in Florida Bay (with Angel and Rebecca)

The bow of his yellow kayak effortlessly sliced through the shallows of Florida Bay. Gulls called in the distance. Neil inhaled the brine scented breeze and felt the sun's warmth on the bare skin of his back and shoulders. A white heron glided past on silent wings.

Schools of minnows darted from his approach and spiraled in the translucent water below. Creating their own wakes, a group of ballyhoo arrowed just under the surface, their long, sharp lower jaws hungrily nosing through bits of floating sea grass. Neil paddled in a deep channel, a tidal flat on one side and an uninhabited mangrove isle on the other. An escape into nature was just what he'd needed.

The kayak’s approach startled some of the fish and a few jumped out of the water, landing with plopping splashes. Neil continued paddling, amused by the silvery shapes leaping around him and slapping back into the sea. One of the fish failed to make it. The spear-nosed ballyhoo lodged into Neil’s back instead.

Howling in surprise and pain, Neil nearly dropping the paddle. The fish had situated itself, lawn dart style, in a spot Neil couldn’t reach. Fins uselessly flapping in place, it protruded from his back.

Making a distressed noise, Neil twisted around, first one way, then the other, trying in vain to reach behind him. He entertained the horrifying image of having to flee to the nearest civilized shore with a fish jammed in his back. Then he’d have to find someone to pull it out.

As he struggled to use the paddle in an awkward attempt to dislodge the fish, it wiggled free. Flipping into the water, it darted away, no worse for the wear.
Back stinging, Neil hunched forward and slowly paddled to his sailboat. So much for a relaxing day off work.

For more zany-but-true stories like this one, click here

'Gators off my Stern!

07 June 2015 | Ten Thousand Islands
Ten Thousand Islands, Florida Everglades, is a remarkable place to coastal cruise. Angel and I picked an awkward time of year to explore and learn more. Summer season is rife with bugs and pop-up thunderstorms, but this is when a working stiff like me was able to afford the move.
Will be home based out of a marina, closest to the islands. I'm one if the smallest cruising type boats there and outnumbered by power vessels (very nice looking ones!)
The first day at the marina, saw an alligator casually swimming past the ship's store and manatee eating floating grass in the empty slip next to me. This is gonna be interesting...

Wild Weather

03 June 2015 | Florida Keys
A Hurricane's Edge
All water based activity had fizzled to a halt. There was no fishing and no work while we impatiently waited for Hurricane Frances to brush past.
Only a handful of vessels, all old classics and well traveled, rested at anchor near us. There was Joe, the semi retired locksmith and veteran who cruised in a small sloop, and a resourceful guy named Guy. Tommy, a retired ex-smuggler who lived up to the term ‘old salt,’ lived aboard a wooden pilot sloop.
Our unique little group waited out the weather, keeping an eye on each other and on the roiling, agitated skies. We were under a tropical storm warning and the suspense was almost antagonistic.
“Maybe we should’ve hid,” Bill radioed with his marine VHF.
“Too late now,” I responded. A cold wind ruffled my hair and Angel rocked in the building seas. Lightning’s serrated flicker repeatedly flashed in the distance. Thunder boomed. Low, dense clouds with torn edges raced overhead. Wind began to shriek through my rigging and someone’s halyard clanked nearby. The sky shattered.
Tightly clinging to the wooden handrails, I peered beyond the companionway. Despite being shielded by Angel’s windshield-like dodger, rain managed to splatter my face. Through the haze of pelting rain, I watched Bill’s boat nearby.
Defiant’s bow thudded over the wind blown waves. Captain Bill was clinging in Defiant’s cockpit, likewise watching Angel leaping in place. After a short time I thought I heard Bill shout over the storm. I could only make out a few words.
“HEY! Look—“ Bill waved at me and pointed toward his boat’s bow. “HEY, a water—OH!” Both sailboat and captain momentarily disappeared behind a twisting mass of water and atomized spray. Like a child’s plaything, the big ketch spun in a half circle.
Then, the boat was shoved on her side, hissing vortexes of spray whirling around us. There was no sign of Bill. As if pinned by an invisible, giant hand, Defiant lay there, tilting precariously. I entertained the strange image of her mast banging into my own boat’s leaning hull.
Suddenly immune to gravity, Defiant’s three boat fenders rose straight into the air, leashed by their ropes. What appeared to be towels and pieces of fabric took flight and disappeared into the howling, wet chaos. The unseen hand released the hapless ketch. She bounced upright, nose snapping around to point into the wind’s eye. The waterspout, a tornado at sea, had moved onwards.
Wet hair porcupined every which way, Bill reappeared. Unable to be heard over the winds and thunder, I frantically waved at him in an are-you-okay? gesture. He patted himself then spread his arms in a wide shrug.

Later I’d learn that Bill and his boat were undamaged except for an angular bruise on Bill’s leg and some lost towels and articles of clothing. The waterspout that bowled Defiant over had been a small model. Anything larger and Bill would’ve been stitching a new dodger. After the weather’s deranged theater, our steadfast little group at anchor heaved a collective sigh of relief. No one’s anchor had been up-rooted. Everyone was in place. But we couldn’t get back to work just yet...
excerpt from the true adventures in Sail With Me and Odd Jobs

Unusual People on an Unusual Island

26 April 2015
The Conch Republic Sea Battle & Pirates
Photo: Key West Wildlife.

A Strange Home Port. Key West, Florida, has an abundance of unusual people and unique activity. Working and surviving on this odd little island can be just as adventurous as cruising.
Here, my new store manager, Mark, struggles to overcome being shell-shocked by Key West's culture. (these zany stories have been assembled in a Kindle short read)

Mark could still be astounded by some of the people who shopped in our isles. The first time he saw the local pirates Mark did a double take, and then helplessly looked at me for clarification. Imposing, the three pirate men appeared as if they’d just finished burying some treasure and were ready for rum. One of them, an amputee, even had an authentic wooden peg leg and a macaw calmly lounging on his shoulder.
When the pirate trio and the parrot were out of earshot, Mark approached me.
“It’s April,” he said, mumbling something about October and Halloween being a long way off. “What’s going on? Are they shooting another movie set around here?”
“I think the Conch Republic sea battle is taking place soon,” I said. “And there are historic re-enactments, pirates and stuff.” The island often held historic festivals and many creative locals were history buffs. Our population of pirate and period actors took great care in recreating old time encampments where tourists could stroll into the past, be entertained, and buy hand made goods.
Peering into the harbor through the store’s windows, Mark asked me to explain the sea battle. I struggled to arrive at what I thought was the simplest explanation.
“Small airplanes drop rolls of toilet paper on the boats fighting each other below. The boats shoot at each other with water cannons and crews throw bread at each other.”
Mark’s perplexed brows remained in the raised position. “Toilet paper?”
“Yeah,” I said. “As the planes drop toilet paper, the paper unrolls into these long ribbons. It’s actually kinda pretty. The planes try to drape them over the schooners and boats. The planes even try to toilet paper the Coast Guard boat that’s in the battle. And then they have a parade…the boats that is, not the planes.”
Mark scratched his head and mumbled.
“Mmm-hmm.” Looking like something else was bothering him, he clicked his pen a few times and squinted at me. “Steve told me that Key West can blow away when there’s a hurricane. Is he serious?”
I pursed my lips and glanced around for Steve. “Steve tells everyone that, the kid is full of beans. Key West can’t float away. He’s pulling your leg”
“Oh. Good.” Walking backwards, Mark stuck his nose into the familiar zone of his clipboard. I watched him nervously hover over the fresh seafood display. He was staring at the whole, fresh caught fish.
Sometime during the day, between the pirates and Steve’s tall tales, Neil had convinced Mark that it was crucial to re-inflate the sunken eyeballs of the fish. Of course this wasn’t true, but Mark didn’t know that...

More zany Key West workplace adventures in the Kindle short read: Odd Jobs

Coastal Cruising Old Florida II of II

21 December 2014 | Florida Everglads, 10,000 Islands
Singlehanders Angel & Astrid
Photo: Everglades City Fishing Boats


When venturing into Everglades City by boat, it's easy to make a wrong turn in one of the many mangrove side channels. A chart, hand held VHF, compass, and basic safety supplies are encouraged. Dinghy-pooling in Angel's RIB, we followed the widely spaced markers, backtracking only once after I'd made a wrong turn and Neil, too busy photographing a pink spoonbill, missed my blunder. Nearing Everglades City, we saw a small-plane airport to the right. Farther down the riverfront was the famed Rod and Gun Club, a hotel/restaurant with an old timey car near the entrance. As we continued along, we saw numerous commercial fishing vessels, stacks of traps, and ice houses.
There were a few waterfront cafes and a marina, which was closed for the summer. We tied to the docks of an eatery that sported a large sign announcing "FOOD." Known as City Seafood, service was friendly and the selection was fresh and filling. We dined at old, wooden tables overlooking the river. Small, harmless crabs, heedless of gravity, sidled up support posts and clung under the tables and floors. I dropped a fried shrimp tail and the antigravity crabs swiftly engaged in a feisty tug of war with it. The area's pace was slow and the tranquil surrounds were as close to nature as one could get. We were enchanted.
We didn't know where to dock the dinghy to explore land, but after eating at City Seafood, they allowed us to leave the boat there for a short while. The town, its population ranging from 400 to 500 souls on a 1.2 square mile island, was smaller than I'd pictured. The single main road and a few side streets were arranged in a grid pattern. The local supermarket was a diminutive building with summer hours of 9am-7pm and the selection of perishables was limited.
The fuel station had a convenience store with an impressive selection of bug spray. In the center of town, there's a museum that showcased 2000 years of local history. This building was erected in 1927, originally as a commercial laundry. Another museum worth seeing is Ted Smallwood's old trading post on the nearby Chokoloskee island, which is an ancient, man-made shell mound. A remarkably preserved piece of history, the store and post office was built in 1906 along the water where the Calusa used to arrive in their canoes to trade goods. The site of a grisly murder in 1910, many believe the area is haunted. Sadly, this rare treasure is struggling to survive after an illegal and financially damaging act by a developer.

Visit: www.smallwoodstore.com If link doesn't work, it's easy to find by typing "smallwood store" in browser...

Coastal Cruising Old Florida

14 December 2014 | PART I OF II
Key West to Everglades City
Photo: Singlehanded boats, Angel, and Neil's Cape Dory, Astrid. Anchored behind Indian Key near the channel to Everglades City.

Sailing to Old Florida: Everglades City
Early June

Angel’s tiller steering felt mushy and sluggish. My Bayfield 29 had lost her usual, sprightly responsiveness. Night was falling and the choppy seas didn’t suit the reasonable breeze. It was time for Plan B. Neil and his Cape Dory, Astrid, also preferred to find shelter instead of continuing through Florida Bay in questionable weather at night. Though not open ocean, Florida Bay’s great, shallow expanse can become uncomfortably sloppy.
Our two singlehanded boats had left Key West for some coastal cruising along the Key’s backcountry, Everglades, and Ten Thousand Islands. As the sun fell, Angel’s steering slowly worsening, I was relieved to anchor in Johnston Key Channel. Behind the lower Keys, this wide, dogleg channel was deep, about eight feet where I anchored out of the way near the channel’s edge. The bottom was a patchwork of sand, grass and silt, coral, and sponges. Johnston Key was such a beautiful area, that we remained the next day, resting and effecting repairs. The base of Angel’s elderly tiller was delaminating behind its bronze fitting, allowing an increasing amount of play. If I hadn’t stopped, the thing would’ve broken completely out in the open. Using some strong epoxy and clamps, the repair was straightforward.
Aside from dodging early summer rainstorms and bugs, our coastal cruise continued uneventfully until we landed at an unusual destination. Both of our boats were once again racing the sunset while a westerly wind pushed us into Indian Key Pass, the boater’s route to Everglades City. New to the area and uncertain, we anchored behind the sandy point of Indian Key. During the night, both Astrid and Angel began to roll uncomfortably in a new swell from the Gulf. At first light, eyes ringed with dark, sleepless circles, we weighed anchor and moved deeper into the wide channel. About 1 ½ nautical miles in and to the right is a pocket sheltered from swells, waves, and weather. The charts indicated that the pocket was 4 to 5 feet deep, but it was actually ten feet, mid-tide, with soft bottom. Exploring and sounding with the dinghy is helpful, since the bottom changes and shift over time. From our new anchoring spot, it was a scenic 3 ½ nm dinghy ride down Indian Key Pass to Everglades City.
...To Be Continued, Next Post...

For more of Angel's sailing adventures, visit my website at www.rebeccaburg.com
Vessel Name: Angel
Vessel Make/Model: Bayfield 29/31
Hailing Port: Milwaukee
Crew: singlehander
About: Living aboard a traveling sailboat: Balancing work & earning a living with cruising.
Home Page: http://www.rebeccaburg.com

A Lady & her Boat

Who: singlehander
Port: Milwaukee