10 May 2011 | from Dry Tortugas
02 May 2011 | Louisville, Ky.
04 April 2011 | Water Island, USVI
18 February 2011 | Culebrita, Puerto Rico
15 February 2011 | Water Island, USVI
13 May 2011
May 13, 2011
This morning I awoke to lots of loud footsteps across the bow (front) of the boat. I peeked around the leather flap which holds the light back and up through the open porthole to find Tom, in his new bright plaid green swim trunks, tag still attached, running about with the broom chasing and swatting at about a dozen white Heron.
I threw my hair into a quick ponytail and came up from below. Wally was at the wheel with camera at hand. He said, I've got some nice pictures of the birds. I said, what about that fool chasing them? Has he reached a new level of boredom today or something?
To fully explain about the birds I need to turn back the clock about 36 hours when we had our first hitchhiker; a small brown Swallow of some kind. This little guy, no bigger than a baseball flew in and landed on Wally's arm! We thought maybe he was looking for his nest and were ready to see him burrow into Wally's thick white beard, but he had bigger plans and after a few minutes flew inside and eventually landed on Lexie's back as she stood, unaware at the foot of our small table.
In the last few days since we left Sarasota we have seen nothing but water in all directions and maybe 4 freighter type boats. Apparently the birds get separated from their mate or flock and fly to the point of exhaustion searching for them. Anyway, at some point I guess they need a break and we have been it to 3 Swallows and 3 Heron, all of which have arrived at different times, until this morning. I guess word got out about the hitchhiking and that our dogs and cat were lulled into a sea induced coma.
Tom finally quit chasing the birds and soon after the flock quit trying to land on our boat then we were back to just one hitchhiker.
Being at sea day after day, time kind of warps together. I have to think real hard about what day it is and create things to occupy my mind. We've played Suduku, read, watched old dvd's on the computer and slept about all I can take at this point. I'm ready for land!!!
12 May 2011
May 12, 2011
We made a quick detour yesterday and instead of going to Tarpon Springs we stopped in Sarasota Bay for the night. We were there just long enough to fill up with gas, diesel, water and grab some dinner at a dockside restaurant.
This morning we began what will be our longest haul yet. Our next stop is Homeport Marina in Gulf Shores. It is over 300 (nautical) miles from Sarasota and will take us about 3 days to get there, nonstop.
All for now,
10 May 2011 | from Dry Tortugas
May 10, 2011
The adrenaline was flowing this morning! Between 6:00 a.m. and 10:00 Tom and Wally reeled in the mother load of fish J !! Between the 3 lines out they caught a Tuna, a Wahoo, 3 Bonita, a Spanish Mackerel and had several lines broken off the 80 lb. test fishing line. Tom said one time they had, "fish on" all 3 lines at the same time! We are going to have a massive fish cook out in the near future! Friends & family are invited!!
Right now we are headed just north of Tampa to Tarpon Springs. It's about 1:00 pm and we should arrive tomorrow night (Wednesday). We are managing this morning without the help of much wind. Both sails are up and close hauled (tucked in close) and one of the two engines spinning away.
We sailed yesterday from Key West to the Dry Tortuga (about 60 miles; took us about 9 hours). The Dry Tortugas are the southern most point in the U.S. and consist of several flat sand bars or very small islands; one of which houses a bird sanctuary, another Fort Jefferson and another a beautiful lighthouse. They are not inhabited by humans except for a few park rangers living at Fort Jefferson.
We arrived around 5:00 p.m. yesterday and anchored a few hundred yards from Fort Jefferson. We took the dinghy ashore docking in the sand to the left of the sign,
" < dinghys and seaplanes > ." (those are actually arrows on the sign) The three of us toured the old fort, about 175 years old and surrounded by a moat and drawbridge! No alligators though, just turtles and big Parrot Fish that I could see.
In between reeling in fish this morning, Tom and Wally had the pleasure of a couple dozen dolphin swimming along with the boat and playing in the water. (I slept in this morning, again). I guess they were aware the fishing was good here too. And today at lunch we had a group of small pelican-like birds flying just overhead. Tom said, "maybe the fish are gonna start biting again." But I told him, "Honey, I think it 's your sardines." Oh yeah, that could be it, Tom said.
Some people live aboard and develop a taste for rum, some the magnificent ocean and others.... well, sardines. This hasn't been mentioned before, maybe I was trying to block it out or just wanted to remain in deep denial, but Tom loves them! He loves sardines and has been eating them with crackers since we arrived here in January. I can't complain about the size of our boat, but during sardine time and especially when he puts the finished container in the garbage... well, the boat shrinks to the size of a rowboat.
It's my watch at the moment. Wally has returned to his cabin for a siesta and Tom is stretched across the couch with Lexie at one end and Beetlejuice at the other. The gentle rock of the boat and the solitude will relax even the most high strung of us living beings.
Before I close it warrants mentioning that Lexie scored another point in the low score wins game of, "Unintentionally Falling Overboard." Two days ago in Key West at the fuel dock Lexie attempted the jump from back step to dock. Obviously misjudging the the clearance she landed in between the two and then proceeded to swim under the dock. The salt water must have gotten in her eyes and ears because she was unresponsive to Tom's calls to come to him. Finally, she regained her senses and was saved by the scoop of Tom's arm. J
Key West here we come!!
07 May 2011
May 6, 2011
Wow, what romance at sea! We are sailing about 5 miles off the Keys of Florida and just passed two Loggerhead Turtles doing the "Hippity-dippity!" They were belly to belly and upright in the water. Their large flippers flailed back and forth resembling two long distance swimmers; which is what they looked like approaching from twenty feet or so. The Loggerhead Turtle is the world's largest turtle. These two had shells that were easily 4 feet in diameter. After seeing this beautiful couple I Googled them and learned that they can reach up to over 400 lbs., live well into their 80's, and breed between 17 and 34 years of age! Each baby can have up to 5 fathers as the female stores the males sperm until she ovulates and creates a baby turtle! That puts an all new twist on, "who your baby daddy?" And the child support chase!
On Tuesday, May 3rd I met Tom and Wally at Paradise Harbor Marina, Paradise Island, Bahamas. My first thought at seeing him after two weeks was that his shirt that reads, "I'm a pirate in real life" is now a true statement. Tom emerged from inside the boat as I wheeled my carry-on down the dock. There he was, full beard, dark tan and long scraggly silver-white hair hanging out from under his black and white skull cap. And of course following him, his usual entourage of Lexie and Slugger; ever-vigilant when they aren't sleeping.
"Island Spirit" was in good shape and what I would consider especially good shape since she was inhabited by 2 guys for 2 weeks at sea. She was relatively clean and very organized. I was informed that in the last week the two of them had only used 29 gallons of water! That's 29 gallons for showering, brushing teeth and cooking. And all I have to say about that is there must have been a lot of stinkin going on, but they were both so proud of their accomplishment!! I said, "Well don't count on it being like that for now on." And Tom said, "Don't worry Rhonda we'll let you have your 14.5 gallons. It wouldn't be fair to not let you have the same amount of water we had!" Uggggh!!!
Ten minutes after I arrived we were underway for Bimini. As much as I was ready for life ashore, it was a good feeling to step back onto "Island Spirit," take off my shoes and put on a t-shirt and shorts. Which is exactly what happened, followed by one very cold Bahamian beer; Kalik.
Wally made us a schedule for "Watch" of 3 hour increments. This would be my first overnight passage and my first watch. At midnight Tom woke me. He and Wally briefed me again on what to do, what NOT to do and then went to bed. I can only describe my hours as serene and magical. Millions of stars shone beautifully in the sky and within a few minutes a falling star fell from the sky appearing to land just in front of us. The air was cool enough to wear a light jacket and the ocean calm like the lake at evening time. There was nothing but water in all directions and the sight of maybe 3 ships during my watch.
There was also incredible bioluminescence. Science lesson #2... What is Bioluminescence? Google search in a nutshell... they are phytoplankton created by the sun as it shines into the ocean. Scientists estimate over 90% of living ocean species have some of this. What I saw though, was small dime sized and shaped white glows at the surface of the water, thousands of them. Some tightly together in groups others floating inches away from one another. As the boats hulls gently pushed the water aside they would light up and then disappear again seconds later.
We arrived in Bimini on Wednesday afternoon where we spent two nights anchored in a bay about 200 yards from shore. Wednesday evening we went into "town" to a little sand floor covered bar called, "the End of the Earth." We enjoyed a few of their cold beers, conch fritters and conch ceviche. Tom and I walked out to the back deck which meets the water and looked down. There hanging out by the large box of submerged conch was a Lion Fish. These black and white stripped fish with long tentacles, about 6 inches in length are extremely poisonous and can be lethal to humans if stung! (Remember the Leslie Nielson movie with Prisilla Presley, "Airplane" when he accidentally stabs 'bosses' pet Lion Fish in his aquarium?) The guys obviously didn't see the threat. Wally wanted to catch and eat him and the owner of the restaurant next door said he was his pet!
We left Bimini on Friday morning about 7:30 a.m. and it is now almost 9:30 p.m. We are in route to Key West and should arrive late Saturday afternoon. The sun has set, Wally has watch and I'm enjoying this adventure bringing "Island Spirit" into the U.S. Savannah is in Louisville with her grandparents and will meet us in New Orleans for Austin's (her older brother) high school graduation around the 22nd This is by far the longest stretch we have gone without Savannah in our clutches. We miss her so much, but knowing she is safe and basking in grandparent love and attention let's us sleep well at night.
All for now.
02 May 2011 | Louisville, Ky.
May 2, 2011
First of all, how bout those Navy Seals!!! Salute! Bye, bye Bin Laden.
And for us…
Savannah and I were last at the Sheraton in Nassau but decided to switch gears and fly home to Louisville while we waited for Tom to make his way into the Bahamas. Last Wednesday (April 29th) as we made the air pattern over the Ohio River I couldn’t believe all the water! Whoa! And then the cold rain! Geez! What happened to Global Warming? (Yeah right.)
It was a good feeling to see home; rain or not. The following morning we made our way over to my mother’s (Memaw Linda’s) for the ultimate surprise. Savannah could not wait to execute the big visit and I was forced to swear into silence all others who knew we were coming to town.
It was 8:30 a.m. and Memaw had yet to finish her first cup of coffee when Savannah popped into their home. Memaw looked like she had seen a ghost and then she cried! And then she kidnapped my daughter for the whole weekend!! J It was a wonderful moment I doubt any of us will ever forget.
I spent the weekend visiting family and friends and going to the, “Wrinkle Room” with my girlfriends Marsha and Sheila. No we didn’t get face lifts or acid facial treatments or anything like that. We went to Jim Porter’s to listen to the band. These guys are friends/co-workers of my partners in crime and occasionally moonlight fulfilling those teen-age dreams of being rock stars. Really though, they were very good!
For those of you from Louisville reading this you know why it’s called the “Wrinkle room.” For others, Jim Porter’s is a bar that has been around since the beginning of time and is home to all the elderly who still have the need to shake it on the dance floor and two-step through the aisles! Yes, it’s that scary J, but it was a night to remember! Thank you my friends.
It’s been a great 6 days at home, but my tan is starting to fade and I no longer own winter clothes so I must return to the sailboat to worship the sun. Plus, Tom and Wally are in the Exumas (Bahamas) and have been sailing many days and nights, off and on to make it this far. Tomorrow I will fly into Nassau and they will sail there. Then the three of us will make our way to the Bimini Islands, then to Florida making our way around Key West and up to Gulf Shores, Alabama.
Once we reach Gulf Shores we will navigate into Homeport Marina; the “hurricane safe” (we hope) marina which will house “Island Spirit” for months to come. One thing that is more than mention worthy is LuLu’s Restaurant & Bar that is located there. If you are a parrot head you already know the owner of LuLu’s is Jimmy Buffett’s sister. So who cares if it’s a hurricane safe marina when you can have, “Cheeseburgers in Paradise!”
All for now,
24 April 2011
April 24, 2011
Happy Easter! For Savannah and I, although we are doing well, it doesn’t feel much like Easter. We are thinking of our family and friends and hoping they have a good day and are spending time with one another.
We heard from Tom and Wally this morning via email. They are in Samana, Dominican Republic and have been there since late Friday night. They are sitting tight right now due to some high winds but as of now plan to leave tomorrow morning at first light to head towards the Turks and Caicos.
Attached is a picture of our new friend Wally (Roger Wallace).
**There are many pictures of our adventure posted on my Facebook page.
All for now, Rhonda
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