Friday, December 19, 2014

Vero Beach to Green Turtle

We sat in Vero Beach for 4 days while watching it rain on and off for most of it, and listening to Chris Parker. Between all of our Passage Weather, Wind Finder and NOAA we listen to Chris. He always is cautious with the weather and seems to be able to let you know when its safe to make a passage. Saturday as we sat drinking coffee listening to Chris he mentioned a weather window he had not mentioned before. There was suppose to be a very short one on Sunday but we felt it was to small of one for a sailboat. Perhaps a powerboat but not us. This window was suppose to be good all day Saturday. We hardly make quick decisions but we did today. We got dressed and headed into the marina to pay and try to catch the first bus to Publix for last minute stuff. Once we get to the marina we realize its Saturday and the earliest bus would not be till 9:10. So we paid for our stay and figured we would just buy what we needed here. We would pay more but thats okay. We hurried back to the boat, lifted the dinghy and dropped the mooring making our way south to the Ft. Pierce. It would be about a two hour trip down the ICW which gave Dirk enough time to run jack lines and tidy the deck up and me enough time to go below and whip up some pasta salad and chicken salad for the crossing. With that done we turned east and headed out the inlet. It was pretty rough as the tide was still outgoing with east winds blowing which made for a very uncomfortable first few minutes. Butters let us know his displeasure by his three p's pee, poop, and puke, one right after the other. I knew it would happen yet didnt pick up the mat I keep in the cockpit. Oh well, shame on me. Glad we have a cockpit shower and was able to hose it all down.

Butters, hanging in the cockpit.
 Once he finally was drained and was down for the count we insured he was safely tucked away in his corner and set out to cross the Stream. Seas were not bad, 3 to 5 feet but a good time between them. It was very do able. About 2pm we started to feel the pull of the Gulf Stream and Dirk threw out some lines. Soon he had a Mahi on the line. You can always tell because they make that leap out of the water. Unfortunately for us the swivel on the tackle broke and Mr. Mahi along with our lure were never to be seen from again. As the sun set behind us the moon rose in front of us. What great luck for us. Soon we were cruising along with the almost full moon above us lighting our way. We finally emerged onto the Bahama Banks around 10pm which was great but we still had many more hours ahead of us. We took our turns napping and keeping watch. Butters finally decided he had his sea legs and once again accepted a tiny bit of food and water. By 5:30 am the horizon began to show signs of sunrise and we could see the land begin to take shape.

Dirk hoisting the Q flag
 The banks were now almost glass with just a few ripples. Great Sale is an unihabitated island with a great anchorage to tuck into. Especially for winds north and east. We slipped into the anchorage and there were only two other sailboats and three powerboats. Not too many people took advantage of the window although we were in radio contact with a few that were going all the way to Green Turtle.

As we were anchoring, the sun was rising and the moon was still in the sky

First Bahama sunrise of the season
Just as we were anchoring, everyone else that had gotten there the night before was picking up anchor and heading out. We had the whole place to ourselves. Never seen it like that. We both had showers and made our way to bed only to find we were restless. Who can sleep when the sun is shining and you have just arrived into a new country. We both managed cat naps and before I knew it Dirk was up saying he was ready to go. Wait, we only got here three hours ago. He said I could stay in bed as he started to pick up anchor. Well Im not gonna sleep so I might as well get up and make some coffee. I made coffee and we set our sights on Crab Cay where we would anchor for the night. As Dirk navigated I stashed some champagne into the fridge to chill for this evening. We always celebrate our crossings with champagne. We made it to the anchorage shortly before sunset which these days is still early. Dirk got the dinghy into the water and made tracks to go retrieve some coconuts like we always score each time we stop here.

Coconut found
Coconut husked
Back to the boat where I made us a home made pizza and we popped the champagne toasting a great
crossing. The following morning we picked up anchor and headed to Green Turtle to check into customs and get a mooring ball inside White Sound as the holding isnt that great and the winds were suppose to howl. As we traveled we saw the squalls from behind trying to catch up with us but they never did.
Squalls trying to catch us
The winds provided some nice sailing for us though. Finally pulling into the Green Turtle anchorage outside of the government dock, we set the anchor and Dirk gathered the appropriate paperwork and passports then headed off. I spent the time tidying up. Soon he was back and we lowered the quarantine flag and hoisted the Bahamian courtesy flag.
Courtesy flag hoisted
 We were now legal and ready to roam.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

And So The Journey Begins

We woke to a beautiful morning on our own. No alarms,for we wanted to ease into to day with no time schedules. Our first day was to be a short one as we had planned on only travelling about 20 miles today. No need to rush into things. Coffee was brewed and we walked the docks telling the friends we had not seen the night before good bye. At 9:30 we fired up the engine and slowly untied the lines that bound us to our docks for far too long. Dick came down to untie our final lines and give us our final push off. So long Harbortown Marina. We enjoy it here but its time to go. We have made so many wonderful friends here, some of which we consider family. Its always hard to say good bye but such is life when you cruise. You know though that somehow, someway you will run into each other again. Into the barge canal, through the bridge and turning south onto the ICW, Dirk hoisted the sails. Soon we shut the engine down and sailed along at a decent clip. What a decent way to start a new journey. We anchored just north of Melbourne Beach and celebrated the beginning of our journey with a shot of Sambuca. I made us a quick gumbo for dinner and by 6:30 we were climbing into bed to watch some TV before quickly falling off to sleep. Both of us woke up at 1:45 am and thought it was morning. Back to sleep and up for coffee before we joined 7 other sailboats heading south.

Winds were out of the east and we sailed along for just a short time before the winds shifted to the south east and basically came off the nose. Soon the rains and the squalls came making for a gray, non eventful day. We arrived in Vero Beach and managed to score one of the last moorings that was un occupied. This time of year they raft them 3 deep to a mooring but we lucked out. Not sure for how long but thats okay, just as long as we dont get a yappy dog nextdoor. We poked around the mooring field and found the boat Motu, we knew from the last time we were in the Bahamas. we stopped and chatted with them a bit before heading back to make dinner and relax. We will hang out here for a few days to let the weather patterns change a bit before heading down to West Palm Beach where we will stage for our crossing to the Abacos.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Back To Writing And Catching You Up

It has been some time since I have made any attempt to write a blog. In fact it looks to be close to a year. So much has happened and yet so little that I really didn't want to bore you all with day to day living in a marina with boat work thrown in here and there. The reason I am picking the blog up again is that soon we will be traveling/cruising again and of course that is the reason I keep this blog. One is so that I have a log of places we go, things we do and photos to see. This will be the big trip for us, the trip we have been waiting for since we began cruising. We thought it would be our first year of cruising but we are both glad that we took 4 seasons instead to travel the Bahamas and up the east coast a bit to give us more experience. Since that first season we have since sold our last boat and bought Renegade. We cruised two seasons on her and in the meantime returned stateside to do further work. Well there is only so much one can redo, replace, and upgrade. It soon will be time to cut the dock lines for an extended cruise. Our goal this first year is to head out of our marina in Merritt Island and head through the Bahamas hitting some of the spots we love and seeing some places we have never been. Then our goal is to make it to Grenada before the 2015 hurricane season starts up. As usual plans are written in jello and well, we make make it as far as Puerto Rico and stay there. The only sure plan is that we will not return to the states this year. Should be an adventure.......

So, I know the last time I wrote on the blog we were headed up to North Carolina to spend a couple months. We stayed in a nice marina at Carolina Beach that was within walking distance to the boardwalk and downtown.
Federal Point Yacht Club

Nice pool area
While there, our original sailboat that we owned Tybee Time came into the marina and was berthed just a couple slips down from us.
The first sailboat we owned and Renegade a couple slips down.
The owners Doug and Tina live onboard and seem to be loving her as much as we did. We also had our friends on S/V Last Star pull in right beside us. We had traveled with them some in the Bahamas and they were winding down their cruising life for now and needed a place to sell the boat from. So for a while we were busy busy visiting and sharing stories and just doing what it is we all like to do. We also have friends and family that live in Wilmington and in between the fun we actually found some time to do some boat projects. I know I wont remember them all as there have been so many in a years time. I do know that we took the older solar panel that came with the boat and replaced it with 2-240 watt panels.
Dirk lining up the bracket for the new solar panels

Brackets installed on the dinghy davits

First panel being installed
This helps tons with the power usage and on a good day we are able to put in around 150 to 180 amp hours into our battery bank. It may do better with thicker cable and thats something Dirk is looking into. Another project Dirk tackled was to tear out and rebuild the shower floor. On our last trip to the Bahamas I noted when I cleaned under the shower grate that the floor seemed a bit soft there. After digging into it we were surprised that no one had fallen through as the bulkhead had suffered water damage and was completely rotten below a certain point. We discovered this a couple weeks before having guest on board and we really needed to have it fixed before that. Well we were in the Bahamas and well there isn't a hardware store around every corner, heck, most places we were at had nothing ashore. So Dirk improvised. He found some old pallets on shore and collected the good wood from them to make it work. Make it work he did and now it was time to do it right. I have to say he did a great job of it and it now looks better than ever.
This was when we had the shower floor removed and all the rotted wood removed. you are looking at the hull of the boat with flaking paint. Oh and Dirks head as he is basically standing on it to get to the plumbing.

2nd new shower pan being made as the first one managed to fly off the dock when a gust of wind hit it. Dirk was not a happy camper

New floor framing going up

Framing done and new floor pan installed with drain

Dirk also built a new shower grate

Here is the shower grate once I sealed it
When it was time for us to leave North Carolina it was beginning to feel like fall and Florida was calling us back. We took the ICW back as the weather I recall was not that nice to travel the outside. Unfortunately by the time we got to South Carolina we received a call from Germany that there was a death in the family and Dirk needed to fly home to help his mom. We found a slip in the Port Royal Marina right on the ICW in Beaufort and Dirk went to Germany. He was gone for a month so Butters and I hung out there. It was a great marina with great staff. The staff knew the circumstances and came by often to check on me and to make sure I didn't need anything. They had a few courtesy cars and I was able to take one anytime I needed to do some shopping. Plus with a great restaurant on the premise I had everything I needed. One day I was sitting topside and look up and there I see our friends Doug and Tina again on our old boat headed south.
There's Pieridae heading south
Dirk returned the first part of December with his mother Anke and she joined us for the rest of the trip back to FL. It was at that point getting very cold at night so we stopped at Marinas most every day in order for her to have the benefit of heat at night. We made a few stops to keep the trip fun and stayed a day extra in St. Augustine and in Fernandina.
Anke enjoying the chilly but pretty sunset

Driftwood Beach

Driftwood Beach

Anke at Driftwood beach close to Brunswick GA
Made it to FL and its still cold

Fernandina Beach

Beautiful evening in St. Augustine with the Bridge of Lions behind us. You can see both of the solar panels here.

St. Augustine lit up for Christmas

Dirk and Anke playing tourist

Like Mother, like Son

Anke with Renegade moored behind her

Dirk and I at Bridge of Lions
We finally made it back to Florida in time to share Christmas with my sister and her family. This was the first Christmas that Anke had ever had outside of Germany so it was a new experience. Anke returned to Germany soon after New Years and life returned to normal aboard Renegade as we settled in to spend a season not cruising. We had decided not to cruise this past season in order to prepare for the upcoming journey. So as we get closer to leaving I will be posting more often so you can enjoy the crunch that we are feeling as time is getting short and there are many different things that need to happen before that date. Stay tuned....