Where'd we go?
20 July 2009
we are over here now
The mere fact that I hyperlinked this address and you can't click on it is yet another reason I am moving.
Trip of a Lifetime
02 July 2009 | St. Kitts
Ahoy, all! This is guest-blogger, Aileen on the G.S. Slow Mocean once again! Hopefully I will be able to weasel out of Seattle and down to whatever nautical location Slow Mocean may be every year, if I'm lucky. For now it was easy to do since I finished college without landing a REAL job (no worries, still employed at my college job). Anyhow, this year certainly has surpassed the experience of the last. Last year when I'd visited, we were cruising through the not so warm waters of the Cheasapeake with less than comprable weather. This year was AWESOME! After graduation, we flew into San Juan and spent the day eating Puerto Rican food and seeing the sights of Old San Juan. Fried cheese, fried cornbread, fried pork pockets (can't remember what they're called... epanitas?), and tostones! YUM! from there we headed down to the other side of the island to catch a boat to Culebra, where the boat was anchored. It was a long ferry ride, but the view was spectacular. At Culebra, chickens roamed the sidewalks as stray cats do in Seattle, but even more interstingly (and it seems to be a common occurance throughout the carribean, at least on my trip) lizards are to the tropics, as squirrels are to Seattle. Unbelievable! Anyhow, westayed in Culebra for 2-3 days getting ready for the cruise down to St. Maarten. In Culebra we also went snorkeling (my first time!) and saw lots of delicious fish and conch, but none were big enough to catch... except the puffer fish. That guy was MASSIVE! if only I'd invested in an underwater camera. By far, the time we spent underwater was much more exciting than above--with the exception of being sandblasted, but that comes later. So from Culebra we cuised down to Culebrita (sp?) and hiked up to the old lighthouse, oldest one in the carribbean according to Blake. It's a pretty neat place to check out if you are around there. The beach is also splendid. We did more snorkeling there, and it was probably the best snorkeling spot on our trip because we even got to spot a seaturtle! Mom didn't do very much up to this point of the trip, she just sat on the boat and cleaned things. Sometimes I think she was just looking for things to clean. From Culebrita we sailed to St. Croix... the journey was not pleasant. Luckily I did not eat anything prior because I would surely have lost it and made a worse mess on the side of the boat. In St. Croix, mom finally decided to get off the boat and play. Blake and I snorkled around the underwater park at Buck Island--lots of fun! They have good signage too, although they really should hire someone to clean the signs now and then because some of them are thickly overgrown with... sea life. We spotted trumpet fish, lots of not cow fish but something that looks similar to it, we saw a lobster and barracudas among others. In St. Maarten I bought a postcard of local tropical fish to send back to my friend in seattle and recognized seeing all but 2 of the fish that were featured on the card. Pretty cool. From St. Croix we sailed/cruised (my parents used to motor a lot on this trip for sake of speed and me not throwing up too much, aren't they sweet?) to our final destination together, St. Maarten. There, we stayed on land for about a week and checked out both sides, French and Dutch. The French side has a lot of French... people speaking it, signage in French and typical shops: Boulangerie, Epicerie, Patisseries, etc; but, the Dutch side, in many parts you can't even tell that it's supposed to be Dutch. Everything is in English and alll the people speak English, at least in Cole Bay. Some parts had a bit more Dutch, but still, very heavily English. Unless your ambition is to flop around and achieve the skin consistency of a leather pouch I'd suggest spending your time of the resort/hotel areas. BORING. We did the normal touristy sight-seeing in Philipsburg, Marigot and some of the beaches, but getting lost (despite what Blake may claim about his internal compass) in the normal parts of town was much more interesting. The best part of St. Maarten though, which you must do if you go there, is getting sand blasted at Maho Beach. Nowhere else in the world, probably, could publicly accessable land be closer to jet engines. Maho beach is a tiny strip of land at a length of one road and a fence away from commerical jets. The last day before I had to fly back to Seattle, Blake took us down to the beach and my mom and I stood front and center for the blasts... and it was AWESOME! had Blake told us we could get pelted by rocks and the potential for serious injury I wouldn't have done it. Thank goodness for ignorance, because it was fun. The four engine KLM jet was the best though. We got blown backwards off our feet and recieved some nice exfoliation from all the sand. Even Blake, who was way off to the side behind a jeep, got the full blast of one of the engines! It was the funnest vacation I've ever had (even though it was fun 24/7, the fun times were much more fun than on other vacations). I'm already missing my parents a lot... so I can't wait to see them again soon, hopefully next year (though it'd be nice to see them for christmas). Happy sails to all. Love, Aileen
The Danger Zone
27 June 2009 | St. Maartin
Had a great trip across the Anegada and have spent the week at the Pelican Resort Hotel overlooking Simpson Bay. Aileen made it across easily and never got sick. She just went to bed in St Croix and woke up in St. Maartin. Actually, she did stay up for quite a while on the crossing, but did well. We anchored in the lagoon and one of the first things we did is make a trip to Budget Marine where we ended up trading in our old dink and getting a new one. words cannot express the difference in these two boats and we are incredibly happy to be cruising around in our new AB.
We also rented a car and Aileen thought it would be great fun to head to the beach. I remember how ironic it was in the movie Castaway where Tom Hanks is given a welcome back party with all the fixings like lobster shrimp and all the great things he had to eat for so long. Beaches get a bit tiresome for me especially when they are hotel or public beaches. Aileen of course doesn't see them everyday so it was good for her. We did have fun and we have seen most of the island this week cruising around in our super small car. We took the dinghy out two days ago to Maho Bay to watch the planes take off. Maho is a pretty famous spot and even if you've never heard of it you most likely have seen it in some funniest videos clip or online. The threshold for the local runway is separated from the beach by a fence a one lane road and usually more than a dozen half naked beach goers with cameras. As the planes turn to launch they blow sand, rocks and usually a few people into the water. It is kind of like being hosed down with a sandblaster. Well when in Rome do as the Romans do and all that so we checked the flight schedule and timed our visit to Maho to coincide with KLM's 747. A mere 737 just doesn't have the kick a 747 does. Long story short we will be picking sand out of our bodies for the next month, there are no decipherable photos and we all had a blast. Kinda reminded me of working on a flight deck again.
On the Road Again
21 June 2009 | Buck Island, St Croix USVI
Well were back on the water again. We've added a new member to the crew for about ten days or so. Aileen our daughter just graduated college and is taking a break. So far we have toured San Juan, Culabrita and now Buck Island. I must say that I'm quite impressed by the water here. While the coral is typically dead in most places some is coming back. Add to that great structure, crystal clear water and huge fish and you have a very nice place to spend some time. If you ever get this way I recommend it. Aileen seems to be enjoying herself despite her best efforts to critique everything. Hopefully she will continue to enjoy herself. Tonight we make a 110 NM leap across the Anagada ( OhMyGodda) Passage to St. Martin. Hopefully she will fare well.
It's About Time
30 May 2009 | St. John USVI
Wow it's been a long time since I wrote anything here. To those of you who have complained, all I can say is this island time thing is getting a hold of me good. Now let's see where did we leave off? Oh yes guests.
We hosted our friends Jim and Kelly from Seattle for 10 days and had a great time. We were kind of unsure how we would do with guests for that long but it went smoothly and it was due in no small part by effort put forth by Jim and Kelly as well. We took them to Charlotte Amalie in St Thomas and timed our trip perfectly with the St. Thomas Carnival. Lot's of partying as well as fireworks. The fireworks were very nicely done and it was a lengthy presentation. We also went snorkeling on Buck Island.
The next day Sunny was acting very odd which in and of itself is quite normal, but this was different. She insisted we do a raft up with Bristol Rose and Spectra. In the end we did raft with Spectra but Bristol abstained. We had a surprise birthday party for me. I certainly didn't expect that especially after last year but she did it again. It was a lot of fun and I got the usual your 40 presents like Aspercreme and Bengay, but Mel made some really cute presents and Trish and Robert re-edited the local travel magazine into a very cute and hilarious rag all about Sunny and I. The pictures in there were priceless.
Sunny flew to Memphis and took her sister on a road trip to Texas and Arkansas to see William and his new wife Bonnie. They also sat around ate and went shopping a lot from what I can see. Sunny got to go to the Big Wal-Mart in Bentonville, AR. How fun, too bad I elected to stay put.
Sunny is back again and we are cruising in St. John right now. It is really nice weather here and hopefully it continues. We fly back to Seattle on the 4th for Aileen's Graduation then we fly back and start heading for Grenada.
28 April 2009 | Culebra, PR
We are having guests arrive this week and so we have been rearranging our little house here to make room. What was to be a simple rearrangement of stuff has become a spring cleaning extravaganza. It absolutely amazes me how much useless stuff we can acquire, even when we have no real place to put it in the first place. I think we have achieved some success in organizing our lives again and we will have to make a better effort at rejecting unneeded items in the future.
Jim and Kelly, friends from Seattle, will join us for a while and hopefully we can see the USVI's. the wind appears to be cooperating just for them. We should be moving East on Thursday in the morning.
22 April 2009 | Esperonza, Vieques
While the sea may provide plenty of fish, vegetables are not normally at hand. Sunny being a serious plant eater is normally quite disappointed with most selections provided by local stores. Yesterday, while traveling through the town of Isabella, she could have been mistaken for a lotto winner when she found a traveling vegetable salesman who passes through Vieques once a week. She did her best to clean him out. To the average viewer back stateside this may not look like a very big deal but I can honestly say that she has more here, both in quality and in variety than I would say any place we have been since Florida, ergo the huge smile on her face. Now if she can just figure out how to eat it all before it goes bad. Knowing her it will not be much of a challenge.
Seein' the Sights
20 April 2009 | Vieques, PR
Greetings from Vieques. You may remember this island from news accounts several years ago in which the Rev. Al Sharpton spent time in jail and on a hunger strike to free the island from the ravages of the US Navy. After hearing different accounts of what happened here with the Navy and it's use of the island for Naval Gunnery practice, I'm still not sure what the real story is, but there are plenty of stories nonetheless.
We pulled into Sun Bay and dinghied over to the small town of Esperonza. It is a cool little village with plenty of bars and food shacks to refresh any tourist. We walked around for a bit and Sunny decided to get a drink made from roasted sesame seeds. It is kind of like horchata (sp) a Mexican drink made from rice which is blended with some sugar and cinnamon. While there I sat next to an older gentleman who appeared to be sleeping. We got to talking and discovered he, Victor, was blind but more importantly he was an ex-marine. His wife, Ruthie, of 50 years was born on Vieques and they met while he was pulling duty as an engineer on the island. They insisted we take a tour of the island with them and we did. As we drove down the roads I was amazed that he would point out different things to look at while at the same time he hadn't actually seen any of it for over 30 years. Pretty remarkable I thought and his wife was the sweetest lady you could ever hope to meet. We had a great time, but for many of the islands residents I'm sure they were glad when we finished, as she had a habit of driving down the middle of the highway at the break neck speed of 10 miles per hour with the occasional stop in the middle of the road to point out different aspects of the island. It was like a convoy.
We then went back out to our boat and discovered Bristol Rose anchored next to us. We all decided to make a trip to the world famous Phosphorescent bay about a mile and a half away. These bays are famous for glowing water which is caused by a type of algae or plankton, which glow when agitated, like mini fireflies. As the sun rested we dropped into the 90+ degree water and were amazed at the amount of light these bugs give off. It is very neat to see your hands glow green and the water glow around you as if you were the electric horseman under water. I wish I could get a picture of it but alas all efforts failed.
Ole San Juan
16 April 2009 | Fort San Juan, PR
Hello from San Juan. We have taken a quick road trip to the city of San Juan to get off the boat for a day. Even we need a vacation sometimes. We had a great time driving up over the mountains from Salinas and doing some obligatory shopping. We needed quite a few things that were unavailable locally and it was fun to see the island. Amazing how PR could be anyplace USA when you drive through it. Everything from Churches Chicken to Macy's is here. Sunny even found an Asian grocery. I never expected to see all that here in in this island so far away from the mainland. Had it not been for the Spanish roadsigns I could have easily been fooled into thinking I was in California. We spent the night in San Juan and took in the Bodies exhibit which we seem to miss in every city were in. Very interesting, a bit creepy, but it is well done. Were definitely coming back to this city again.
Isla Caja de Muertos
10 April 2009 | Puerto Rico
Hello from Caja de Muerto or Coffin island to us gringos. We are anchored in a beautiful cove of the island which sits just 7 miles from the city of Ponce in Puerto Rico. Should be a fun place for the next couple of days with all the festivities scheduled in the area.
05 April 2009 | Boqueron, PR
When is it ever a good thing when everyone's wife decides to have a special ladies only meeting. You know it means someone/everyone is in trouble. All day the husbands fritter around with little projects just waiting for the inevitable conversation when the girls come home. Well this particular day was different, for me at least. They decided we should get dressed up, do hair and have a dinner out with some dancing. I can live with that. Believe me it can go much worse in these situations.
Bravo Zulu MV Spectra
02 April 2009 | Escondido, DR
We were leaving Georgetown Bahamas when we heard the call on the Cruisehiemers net issuing a boat watch for the sailing Vessel Annie II. It was two weeks over due and it did not sound good. A week later I heard Annie II was found and in Caicos albeit dismasted. He was motoring south to Luperon with another vessel and I figured that would be that.
When we got to Luperon we were anchored close to Annie II and met Ken and his wife, who was flying home so Ken could single hand the boat to St. Lucie. Ken had a plan to cannibalize a mast and rig from a similar sized boat which was sunk in the harbor. The Comandante decided to get in on the action and told Ken he needed to pay him a couple thousand dollars for it. It was a BS move to take advantage of Ken like that and Ken decided he wasn't going to play the game. He decided to motor his 28' vessel into 5' seas and 15 knot winds for as long as he needed to.
As the window arrived and we were all preparing to exit Luperon Ken got a call from MV Spectra (a 53' Krogen). Joe the captain said, "Why don't you toss me a line and I'll tow you". Ken played it off as a bit of a joke from a fellow Yachty and Joe said," I'm serious"
It was a truly kind and generous offer to tow Annie II all the way to PR, and that kind of generosity should always be recognized. Not that Ken would have been killed or anything but it would have been a very nasty crossing for him. Three days after departing Luperon Annie II made landfall with Spectra in Mayaguez PR.
Were all glad Ken made it unscathed and were also pleased to know that fellow boaters are always there to help each other. For we all know, those we help today may save our bacon tomorrow.
Clean up Time
01 April 2009 | Luperon
Here's a neat little trick. Seems the people of Luperon don't need huge waste management trucks. They place their household scraps and other trash outside their front doors and let the town goats clean it up. I'm sure these are the same goats who end up as the dinner special in the local restaurants, as well. People often take laundry to town and the ladies will clean it very well then hang it outside on the barbed wire fence to dry. It doesn't even need clothes pins. Very ingenious I think. I suppose it might be a problem when the goats eat your pants, and that may be the reason that stewed goat is so popular here.
24 March 2009
After a night of revelry and good food in Caicos we set out the next day for Luperon. It was another very quiet night of little wind and smooth seas. We were warned about a large North swell and how that may effect entry into Luperon which sits on the north coast. One guy had done it before in larger swells and convinced us it would work out so off we went. We hooked another Mahi, this one being the largest this year and set out over night once again. As dawn broke we made out the ominous outline of a mountain. We haven't seen one in three years of cruising out here and let me tell you it seemed quite majestic. It was cloaked in rain and gray clouds. Seemed kind of surreal to see that sort of thing after spending so much time in the Bahamas and it's low lying scrubby islands. The swell was probably 6 to 7 feet but very well spaced. We made a single file line and crept in to the entrance. All seemed so easy until I turned to look back and saw a huge wave developing. It was like one of those Hawaii 50 type of waves and it looked huge to me. I was getting concerned about how to manage it as it quietly vanished along a shoal. Not even a small ripple followed us in and we rounded the corner into Luperon. Like many a cruiser I have heard the good the bad and the ugly of this place. I expected a filthy harbor, boat boys offering to reliev us of any extra money and the dreaded Comandante and his entourage of officialdom looking for bribes. None of this could have been further from the truth. Instead we encountered a nice harbor with no more pollution than any other, The nicest people one could hope to encounter and the many officials we were required to meet were all very professional, courteous and not one of them hinted for a bribe of tip. We have only been here a short while and already we feel as if we could spend the rest of our lives here. Being always restless though I'm sure it will be just a mater of time until we move along.
20 March 2009 | Providencia
Not much that I know of really discusses the Turks and Caicos Islands and therefore we saw them as simply a staging point to get to Luperon in the Dominican Republic. We came in with a couple of other boats and we all seemed to have the same plan. I had heard that Caicos was primarily a sunny beach with big hotels and nothing for the cruising sailor. We were surprised to hear a net in the morning hosted by the local Marina and even more surprised to hear them call boats by name (us) that were miles away anchored out. Most marinas don't give a hoot about anchored boats either. Simon the Marina manager invited us all over for a potluck barbecue. He even sent a truck out to pick us all up. It was a great event made even better by the musical stylings of Robin from Solveig. He was a folk music aficionado and kept the party going well into the night. Simon and his wife were genuinely gracious and any boat "staging" in Caicos would do well to call Simon. He is trying to make cruisers feel appreciated in Caicos and he did a great job.
17 March 2009 | Rum Cay
Having left the festivities of Georgetown behind us we moved on to Rum Cay. It was a real tough day of beating incessantly into wind and waves. The one bright spot being the landing of yet another great Mahi. Rum Cay proved to live up to its reputation as a rolly anchorage and we got to experience it in all its glory for a week. We did manage to do some snorkeling and captured a couple nice fish and the biggest Lobster I have seen yet. The island is fairly undeveloped and has small roads going all over. We managed a walk to the windward side of the island and were presented with a gorgeous view of reef, bluffs and crashing waves. Our highly anticipated weather window to go east proved to be less exiting than we had hoped for as we were unable to sail. I still prefer motoring to smashing into waves and wind so off we went. Early the next morning we passed by the island of Myaguana and turned south to Caicos. We also turned off the engine and had a great sail south for half a day. Just like that we were out of the Bahamas.
10 March 2009 | Georgetown
After a week in Georgetown competing in regatta events and catching up with old friends we are once again on the move. Unfortunately we won't be loading the boat down with any prizes or trophys from our exploits, but we will take away some great memories.
28 February 2009 | Green Cay
Sunny got the skunk off our boat with this little jewel which was the first of two we hooked on our two day trip from Fresh Creek, Andros to Pipe Creek Exuma. We were accompanied by our newest set of friends, Russel and Diane of White Horse Canada, aboard "Hat Tric". We made an overnight landfall at Green Cay just off the East edge of the Tongue of the Ocean. We had the entire island to ourselves and promptly had a nice roaring fire which we used to cook some potatoes and our Fresh Mahi.
26 February 2009 | Fresh Creek, Andros
Well, it has been a windy two weeks here in Fresh Creek. I made it out to the reef the second day I was here and scored a nice Hogfish within just a few minutes. Best one yet. We decided to head in and get it cleaned instead of swimming. I guess we should have taken advantage of the opportunity because it has only happened one time since, and that day we caught nothing. The corals were nice though and it seems to me anyway that they are reviving. We saw quite a bit of Elkhorn coral growing which we didn't see two years ago. It was kind of patchy then. We also were surprised to see the massive influx of Lion Fish. We have been relegated to hunting these instead of the more edible species but its fun anyway. We made a trip up North to the Mennonite farm and bought some vegetables as well as at the Bahamian packing house. We also happened upon a grapefruit orchard where we were allowed to pick our own fruit. Sunny is definitely not doing without vegetables and fruits this time.
Sunny is doing without the use of her pinky finger for the next few days. She did her best to break it under the weight of the fridge lid. She managed to merely smash it good. She had a doctor visit and x-rays as well. She got to go on the AUTEC base to get an x-ray. While there she had a nice lunch of prime rib and ice cream. How sad for her, I got old leftovers. She says she will try and break her thumb for steak night. She came home complaining about how much food she ate rather than the pain in her finger, so I think she will survive.
Until the wind lays down some and gets off our nose we are pinned down here and unable to leave the reef. In the meantime we continue to help our friend Audrey works on her boat as well. Yesterday we got pulled over by the Bahamian police. One must see the condition of most vehicles in the Bahamas to really appreciate this. Audrey and her friend Linda purchased this old van, a typical beater with a heater type of vehicle. As we parked we got out and notice the trooper pull up behind us. He called for Audrey to stop and we did. He came forward and asked us where the front license plate was. This car doesn't even have a front bumper there is so much rust. Audrey told him it must have fallen off with the bumper. She went on to tell him that it was amazing she still had a rear plate considering the back bumper had fallen off a few weeks back. There is so much cancer on this van you can literally push your hand through the quarter panels if you want. After quite a long discussion and polite butt chewing he let us continue on. All the while a truck in front of us had no plates and the owner simply painted numbers on his bumper. I couldn't help but wonder what we would have had to deal with in the states over such a situation. Audrey got some new plates today and we found two fairly secure places to drill holes and bolt on the new plates.
15 February 2009 | Fresh Creek, Andros
It's about time we got somewhere. Even if somewhere is actually nowhere. We had a comfortable crossing in the gulf Stream and spent two days waiting in Gun Cay which is one of the Western most islands in Bahamas. Had some fun swimming and meeting old friends. Weather never turned in our favor so we decided to motor across the banks 60 miles to avoid an upcoming cold front. The banks are neat but completely unprotected. We spent last night anchored out on the banks with no land in sight in pristine water. The night came and the Milky Way lit up. I can't remember the last time we were able to see it that clearly. The Milky Way stretched all the way across the sky into the flat water and seemed to be melting.
Today, we continued on and headed South along the Eastern Shore of Andros. We hooked a nice mahi on the way but unfortunately, we were unable to boat it properly and he went bouncing back into the water. We are now in Fresh Creek rafted up with Audry. Feels good to be back.
10 February 2009 | Biscayne Bay
Looks like we will be leaving Florida on Thursday. Seems like we may be jumping out of the frying pan into the fire as far as weather is concerned. It has been very windy, almost reminiscent of two years ago. Regardless of the realities of the weather systems that have made for unpleasant conditions in the Bahamas, we are suffering from cabin fever here and look forward to anything different at this time. I am especially eager to get back in the water and do a bit of hunting. The quest for nice Hogfish seems to never end. We will try to post underway but still having some issues with out radio modem connection so not sure it will work well. We do plan on going back to Fresh Creek which, despite the lack of most anything, does have wi-fi.
We Hit a Snag
28 January 2009 | Miami Beach
Things didn't work out as we planned this morning, so that part is normal. We were staged at No Name Harbor off of Key Biscayne and contemplated whether or not we wanted to push into 20 knots of wind and 4-6' waves. We decided we could do it and as soon as we pulled our anchor the signs started coming. First the windlass started jamming and when the anchor did come up, we had an old string of Lobster pots wrapped around it in a huge mess. We carefully got it loose and secured the anchor. Next, we set a course for the channel which leads to open water and the Gulf Stream. Almost immediately, it was apparent the boat was not cooperating as the Autopilot was off by around 60 degrees. I tried to recommission it and set the swing angle but in the end it would not work. Simple 1 degree adjustments sent the helm spinning 20-30 degrees at a time. That was all the gremlins we needed so we turned around and found calm water. As we sit here back in Miami it is apparent we will miss this window but we we did fix the autopilot which is nice. Looks like at least a week before a suitable weather system will appear, maybe longer.
A Wind Oh!
27 January 2009 | Key Biscayne
Could it possibly be happening? We are ready to jump over to Bimini from Miami at any moment. The wind is currently on the nose so we have to wait about 30 more hours for a window it seems. We spent a week in Miami and finished trying to sink the boat with food. Sunny seems to think the rest of the world is void of food. Of course she is right to a degree because the food she normally eats is basically non-existent on the east coast let alone the Caribbean. The water maker decided to act up today but it appears that I used a big enough hammer to realign it's attitude and now all is well there. Hopefully our pactor will work well enough to post via the radio so we won't have to locate wifi all the time.
14 January 2009 | Palm Beach
Timing is everything here. The boat was bouncing around quite a bit and getting the wires pulled down through the compression post while the Mast was being lowered onto a moving target was a task no one looked forward to. Luckily, the crew of Mack Sails did it perfectly and had us going within a few hours. Can't say enough about how well they performed. We are now in a bit of cool weather and I have to jump in the water still. Not looking forward to that.
06 January 2009 | Ft Pierce
We had our mast pulled for re-rig and inspection today. We will move south to Lake Worth in West Palm Beach where we will hopefully have it reinstalled next week. This will work out good as we can install our replacement rudder, activate the water maker and change our prop blades. Hopefully the water won't be too cold as I will be underwater quite a bit. The good news is that we are finally the proper weight and the water line is back where it should be. Did I mention Sunny went shopping?
We have added pics of the operation in the gallery.
Free at Last
05 January 2009 | Ft. Pierce
Due to a known but not fully explainable phenomenon, Slow-Mocean was stuck in "Velco" beach for much longer than anyone could have expected. Vero is a nice town that welcomes cruisers with a reasonable moorage rate, good facilities and a bus system that enables ones wife to shop day in and day out. Not that we need to buy anything but the relative desert of shopping between here and Norfolk, VA made Sunny a bit crazy. I believe she is better now and capable of going off into the wild blue yonder.
One of the many reasons we never left Vero has to do with our rigging. We have decided to get it replaced for safety and therefore it was not until now that we needed to move. Mack Sails will be pulling our mast and rigging here in Ft Pierce. We will have that and a new stack pack built for the boat so we can deploy and snuff the Main sail easier. The current system is a pain to deal with and has caused us a lot of concern in the past during bad weather. Hopefully this will be better and the new rigging will hopefully prevent a mast failure as has happened to two other like vessels in the past two years.
With luck we will be back to normal in a week and then be able to push on to Lake Worth to fix our prop pitch and replace a rudder.
Hope everyone has had a great New Year and let's hope this will be a much better year than last for everyone.
30 November 2008 | Vero Beach
Hello from Vero or Velcro beach as some call it. We have spent a nice week here and enjoyed a great Thanksgiving hosted by Craig and Mary of Rum Tum Tiger. Sunny is getting her shopping fix taken care of and I am enjoying some warmer weather for a change. We hosted Sunny's sister in Daytona before coming down here and that was a great experience as well. They have not had a true vacation in many years and it would seem that they had a great time. We are still leaning on heading west once we get to Miami and so far we know we will do whatever we can to sail to the Dry Tortugas. The Dry Tortugas are a small group of islands 60Nm West of Key West and is the site of Ft. Jefferson, one of the many brick forts started in the US in the 1800's. Forts which became obsolete before any of them were finished, I believe, due to the invention of the rifled artillery that pierces brick with ease. It would seem the Department of Defense has been spending large amounts of the nations wealth for programs that will be outdated before they are implemented for a long time. Thank goodness they will finally get it right with the Missile Defense program. ;^)
Here Comes Trouble
14 November 2008 | St Augustine
We are very happy to have our old cruising buddies Jim, Mary and their daughter Alyssa from the PNW come join us in St. Augustine. They had flown out to cruise to Nassau on a big boat and made time to come spend an evening at anchor with us in St. Augustine. We probably are better off that we don't hang out together as much because the next morning was a real bugger. Still it was great seeing them and as always we had a lot of fun.
09 November 2008 | St. Augustine
Takin it Easy
We made it to St. Augustine in good time. We had to motor the whole way but considering we saved 4 days and chopped 100 miles off the rip by going outside vs. the ICW I am very happy. We are hoping to meet Jim and Mary Neal from Seattle, our old cruising buddies from the San Juan's. They have booked a cruise to Nassau this weekend and hope to drive up from Cocoa Beach afterwards to get together. Hope they have good weather with Paloma doing its thing south of them. Sunny's sister will be here this week as well and then we will all head to Daytona for a bit.
As we were cruising down here this little bird came flying along about 30 miles offshore. He would almost hit the water then quickly pull himself up a bit, then back down he would go. As he passed by the boat he made a quick u-turn and landed on the boat. He inspected the boat from stern to bow and then he was gone. As we approached St. Augustine he popped up out of the cargo pocket on our dinghy and flew to the beach. Straight and level this time. Glad he got some rest.
Fun on the Beach
06 November 2008 | Ft. Freemont
Well we have gotten our Parts. We beached the boat to change the props out and fortunately things worked out pretty well. Not having to schedule a lift and yard was nice and definitely an advantage cats have, when required. After we refloated we decided to take advantage of some very smooth seas and motor on down to St. Augustine. We finally fixed the autopilot as well. Thanks Myles. It is so nice to get a technician who knows another term besides "send it in"
30 October 2008 | Beaufort, SC
Well you know how when something breaks, two more things will break soon after. We just had our third installment. The reason we went to Oriental was to replace the generator. As we pulled out of Oriental we lost our Auto pilot within 5 miles. Not to worry we docked in Beaufort, NC and beat on it with a hammer, chanted in a four lettered tongue and threatened it with submersion. It worked for another full day. We did more of the same at Carolina State Park but to no avail. I located an electronics guy in Florida who speaks British. This is important when dealing with British electronics I believe. Now we have a real strategy for fixing the auto pilot. I call it the R&R strategy. Remove and replace so we can rest and relax.
As we pulled in to Beaufort, SC we backed down on the engines to come to stop. (Sunny would like to point out "we" means "I") A loud bang was heard. We drifted for a moment to think what it may have been. I engaged the starboard engine and listened while it revved up but did nothing. Strike three we lost our Prop assembly. Today we called in a local diver who was able to verify the shaft was still there. We also had him wallow around in the mud 20 feet under water looking for the prop which of course he had about as much chance of finding as our dog has of finding something useful to do.
Christmas is here early this year. We will be getting new props and auto pilot. I will have to charge the generator off to our anniversary. So it's not all palm trees and rum everyday but that day will come soon enough. Meanwhile we have located a good beach to drive the boat onto so we can replace the props. Fortunately, there is a 6 foot tidal range here so we won't have to locate a large shipyard to haul out in.
Sunny thinks I have pretty good chance of hitting the beach with just one engine. Sarcastic or optimistic I'm not sure
27 October 2008 | In a swamp
Were on the road again. We left Oriental none too soon, The mornings are getting chilly and honestly we have thinned our blood considerably over the last few years. Of course the Autopilot has decided to fail us again, so we are going down the ICW. It is really much nicer at this time of year though. The trees are changing and the hordes of bugs that attack us in the spring are all but gone. We traveled through our favorite stretch of ICW today which is Myrtle beach to Georgetown, SC.
We will head south to Charleston tomorrow but will probably keep on going. It would be nice to see our friends Denny and Diane from the good ship Jus' Dreamin. They are on the North Edisto river so hopefully we can catch a favorable current and see them.
Here we sit
08 October 2008 | Oriental
Here we sit. We have successfully replaced our generator. It was a dirty and confined job, but that's a boat engine. We have neglected to run it much due to the solar array and wind generator so it was no surprise it quit working properly. Like many mechanical things if you don't use them they seem to break. We will have to run it at least a few hours a week. So I guess we will be using the washer and dryer more often or we run the risk of losing that too.
I still need to rebuild the feed pumps for the R/O (water Maker)system and we should be ready to cut the dock lines. It is starting to get cool here and it only takes a few days for winter to blow in here so we need to be ready to leave before the gloves and hats need to be broken out.
BTW we were able to catch the Oriental dragon while it was sunning itself. Hope this answers your question Aileen.
Enter the dragon
24 September 2008
Hello from Oriental! We decided this was a far better place for us to complete preparations for our voyage south. We have many good friends here and the town has plenty of resources to accomplish boat repairs. We are currently in the midst of a Nor'easter which has raised water levels by a few feet. A few feet of water here is significant. The roads are under water and so are some of the docks.
17 September 2008 | Old Point Comfort
Were back in the water again. Been busy painting the boat and working on the sail drives. We also took a road trip to Memphis and back which was nice. Aileen is with us for a few days and we are on the way to Norfolk to get some generator work done and send her off on Thursday. Then? Who knows? We are ready for some clean warm water.
Takin' it easy?
15 September 2008 | above the fiesty fishes
Greetings! Captain's log, star date: 09152008. We aboard the sailboat, Slow-mocean, have voyaged into the murky mud of the Chesapeake Bay. The largest estuary in the United States of America. Our current position is: [insert current position here!]. After many hours of Blake driving and not taking turns (because mom was stoned from meds, and I was deep in my crosswords) we finally reached the boat in Hayes, VA from Memphis in about 16 hours? I cannot remember exactly. Anyhow, that night was awfully hot. Then we woke up, ate breakfast, showered in the washrooms and headed out for lunch and provisions. We also needed a plug thing for 12 volts... which seems cannot be found anywhere in Hayes, not even RADIO SHACK! These were more like "cell phone" shack. Moving on, we did our business, left the town behind and hit the waters. We had yummy Korean food, courtesy of Aunt Judy and Young Imo. Virginia has lots of bugs that like to fly around ALOT! I got hit in the face a few times. They also have uneven clawed crabs. they look like mutations! one side little and then this ginormous claw on the other! I hear they are called, Fiddler crabs. Back to dinner on the boat, though. So dinner was yummy. Too bad there were still 50million flies on board; despite our candles and smoke bombs. As night fell my parents invited me to play dominoes. I guess I had beginners luck... the first game I lost, but in the end I hadn't even broken 80 (we played 'til 200). In one round I killed Blake by more than half--113! mwahahahahahahahahahahaha...!! xD My prize? nothing good on the boat so they tried to liquor me up with Godiva white choco + choco coffee liqueur cocktail. It was good, but could've used milk. Now I am writing the sail blog as Blake reads the news and the damage of Ike. =( Best to all out there who have been affected.
Plotting Our Course
22 August 2008 | Severn River
We are anchored in Bryant Bay on the Severn River off of Mobjack Bay. We are scheduled to haul the boat on Monday so we are just getting things ready over the weekend to hit the ground running. We have quite a bit to do so we came here a week early to get started. The boat needs a new bottom paint and the sail drives need some attention. We will also be removing a dynaplate we installed last year for the SSB radio ground plane. I feel that it is causing corrosion on the saildrive. We need to fill the holes and figure out how to achieve a proper ground plane without it. For those of you who aren't familiar with what I'm talking about, I'll try to explain. An SSB ( Single Side Band) radio sends radio waves up into the ionosphere where they bounce back to the earth. This enables an SSB to achieve much greater distances than a standard vhf which is line of site. Think 1000 mi of coverage vs. 15 miles. SSB's are critical for keeping in contact with other boats, getting weather info and even e-mail. The ground plane in effect bounces the radio waves up like sand on a drum. So these items along about a hundred smaller items will keep us busy over the next couple weeks.
Once we get that done it is our plan to drive to Memphis, TN to Sunny's sisters home. With any luck our lovely daughter, Aileen, will be flying in from Seattle. Then after a few days we will drive back here with Aileen and have the boat splashed. Aileen will then sail around with us for a few days while we cruise to Norfolk where she will eventually fly home after taking us for every steak dinner she can.
Once Aileen departs we can put a plan together for getting back to Bahamas or down to the Caribbean. We seem to be leaning towards the Eastern Caribbean which will mainly involve Puerto Rico to Trinidad. We will most likely spend the next hurricane season either in Trinidad or Grenada. All plans are in jello of course and every year we seem to get sidetracked into something else. We do intend to take it easy and sail rather than motor as much as possible. At least with a basic goal in mind we know which winds are favorable.
17 August 2008 | Washington Channel
This was an unplanned trip. We were heading North in the Chesapeake to go to NYC and we met some people who suggested we should try DC. We took their advice and are glad we did. The trip up the Potomac is the only real drawback to this trip. Wind was very light so it was a motoring trip. Anchorages are not that great once you get up the river. We did stop in St. Mary's on the way in, and it was worth a stop. The anchorage was nice enough until an afternoon squall came through and every boat in the anchorage drug. Imagine how we felt as we were running back to the boat and watched as our boat just broke loose and went sideways for the shore line. Fortunately, the anchor reset and held 50 yards from the shore line, and with only 2 feet under the keels. The archaeological site that is St. Mary's is very well organized and informative.
We made our way up the Potomac under the Woodrow Wilson Bridge just south of Alexandria. This is a new bridge with a height of 85' on center. Nice not having to wait until 3:00am to open the bridge. We anchored in front of Gangplank Marina in the Washington Channel and spent two weeks looking at all the sites we could find the energy to see. The Smithsonian is truly an amazing asset for this country. We visited quite a few monuments and museums and learned a lot about the history of the country that I was too busy to care about when I was in school. Sunny being from Korea was impressed as well by all that she saw and gained a great deal of insight on the history of the nation. I personally think she had the most fun in the Bureau of Engraving where she was able to see millions of dollars being printed. She was so disappointed to find that there were no free samples. They did however sell money in the gift shop which I thought was funny.
On the way south we stopped at Mt Vernon. This is a must do for anyone who is cruising by. The home of George Washington is a fantastic experience. Aside from the home tours and the gardens there is also a great museum and education center which rivaled anything we saw in DC. The only downside here is that at night it is very buggy.
03 August 2008 | St. Mary's River
This will be the cruising blog of Sunny and Blake aboard the Catamaran Slow-Mocean. We hail from Seattle WA where we raised three kids had a couple of businesses. We have been living aboard full-time now since the 1st of Jan, 2007. In that time we've spent two seasons in the Bahamas. Currently, we are in the Chesapeake Bay hiding from hurricanes and doing a bit of work on the boat. It seems like cruisers find themselves in a world made up of two seasons, cruising season and hurricane season. This is a great life for us and the best part is the people we meet along the way. Watching sunsets while eating fresh fish and drinking a bit of rum in a remote anchorage is of course nice too. Please feel free to tag along with us.