New Year’s Eve on the Water

There was no way we could spend another New Years Eve stuck in Indiantown, and took an opportunity to visit our friends Cati and Johannes on their catamaran in Ft. Lauderdale. Before we could get there though, there’s the never ending list of boat projects. This time it included getting our mast all the way on deck before having to drop it again due to rigging issues.

Cheers from the work yard!

Thank you SO MUCH to our Patrons. These charitable souls help keep us in the work yard, our camera equipment up to date, and the videos coming. To join the Patreon ranks, please visit http://www.patreon.com/mjsailing

Thank you!,
Matt & Jessica

Music:
00:01 – Spoiled Kids – Daniel Kadawatha
05:50 – Nobody Like You – Katelyn Tarver
07:28 – Daydreamer
09:03 – Live Up – Sailing Conductors
13:10 – Get Lost – Niklas Gustavsson
13:46 – Auld Lang Syne – M Boney

Camera equipment used:
– Sony NEX 5T – http://amzn.to/2glc9zG
– Apple iPhone 5S – http://amzn.to/2iHRu7G

Editing software: Windows Movie Maker

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Our Own Private Champage Cruise

sunset cruise in Ft. Lauderdale

Weeks before my parents arrived, I received an email from my mom asking if we would be interested in taking a sunset cruise during our time in Fort Lauderdale. I was ecstatic to hear this, but also a little surprised as it can be hard to get my parents out for boat rides sometimes.  Especially ones that lead to the ocean. Maybe it was because they knew we could book it the day of, making sure to watch weather conditions; maybe it was because they knew a company that caters to tourist probably wouldn’t go out in some of the conditions Matt and I have been forced to endure; or maybe it was because they must have known how much we’re missing our time on the water and wanted to give us a little piece of that back.  Because my parents are awesome like that.

For awhile during our vacation it looked like we may not actually be able to get out on this excursion that I’d now been looking forward to for weeks.  When we first arrived to Fort Lauderdale the winds were extremely strong, the seas were high enough to be bouncy, and even if the cruises were still running the ride would most likely be very uncomfortable.  Once the winds died down the rain started up, and every day was a guess of when the showers would be in and for how long.  This was not the November we were expecting in Florida, and it seemed we were stuck in summer-like weather patterns.

It took until almost our last day before leaving for us to make this happen.  The morning and afternoon had all been off and on rain showers, although the evening looked promising. Visiting in the mid afternoon, just to get a feel for the area so we didn’t rush ourselves later, we purchased tickets and took a look at the boat.  This part of the day was still sunny and they’d just come in from taking a group snorkeling and swimming the reefs just outside the inlet.  Who knew those even existed in Fort Lauderdale? The office mentioned they go out rain or shine, and if we showed up to go, they would take us.

The late afternoon was quite questionable, but my favorite site of Passage Weather showed that precipitation would be gone, waves would be non existent, and winds would be very little.  That sounded just fine to me.  I didn’t need a thrill ride of a sunset tour, I just needed a good sunset and a full glass of champagne.  And if the clouds indeed clear up, I’d be promised 2 out of 2. Luckily the universe did take a little pity on me and the clouds did part just in time for our departure from the condo.

Arriving at the Spirit of Fort Lauderdale, we found another surprise.  We were the only ones to sign up for that evenings cruise.  We had the whole catamaran to ourselves! I was hoping that meant each person on board each received their own bottle of champagne, but that request was quickly smashed down.  (It’s ok, there was still Dos XX in the fridge for when I got back…)  We had Captain Mike and Jason on duty that night, and as soon as they finished with the required safety speech, the dock lines where thrown off and we had the music pumping out of the speakers to whatever station we wanted.  Since we had full run of the place.

The crew members quickly became our talking buddies, and we turned the cruise into a big hangout session instead of us by ourselves and them by themselves. Gliding down the ICW and closer to the inlet the sun was already dipping and the sky was radiating different colors of yellow and pink. As we passed by mega yachts and mega mansions, Mike and Jason were able to give us the history or some background on a lot of these boats and homes

my family at a sunset cruise

ICW Ft. Lauderdale

waterfront house in Ft. Lauderdale

One of the best parts of the trip for me, how lame is this, was coming up to the 17th St. Causeway and not having to lift a finger to get under it.  No hailing the bridge tender, no controlling the boat so I could time our approach just perfectly, and no watching for oncoming traffic to avoid.  I was able to just sit back and watch the waterfront restaurants begin to light up their decks, or finally get a good look at all these ridiculously large yachts we were passing by.

On the other side of the bridge we found ourselves right upon the inlet to the Atlantic and it was time to raise the sails.  Another thing I did not have to lift a finger for.  By this time the sun was fully down and we were surrounded by a soft pink lighting behind us, and a deepening blue as we made our way out into open waters.  A slight chop was coming through, and I joined my parents on the trampoline up by the bow, and rode the small waves like a ride until a few began splashing up underneath us and trying to soak our pants.

going under 17th St. bridge

dad under bridge

raising the mainsail

sunset cruise Fort Lauderdale

Spirit of Fort Lauderdale

It turned out that the little wind I had been watching earlier turned out to be much too small to fill our sails. Getting out into open water, we sailed close hauled for a bit as we slightly bobbed around in the small swells.  The sail that didn’t want to stay full was smacking back and forth a bit, and very much reminded me of our sail from Miami to Bermuda.

Once the sky began to turn black, the consensus on board was that without much sailing happening there wasn’t a lot of reason to stay out in the Atlantic just to run up the clock.  There could still be touring done inside the canals.  Turning the boat around we had a slightly more comfortable and half a knot faster sail back inside the waterway. As soon as we were inside and the sails were lowered it was time for the champagne to come out.

Giving a big toast between ourselves and to our crew, we had a fantastic run for the last little bit of our cruise.  With my full glass of champagne, we all stood out on deck and watched the bright lights of the city shining down on us.  As a special treat, and since we had a little extra time, we made a run down a side canal to take a look at a few of the waterfront homes and took a little shock in realizing that most people did not put blinds into their living rooms or kitchens.  And I have to say, a few of the meals I was able to see prepared looked really delicious.

Before we knew it we were sliding back into our slip at the marina and it was time to trade in our sailing hat for a land based one.  Cruisers living on dirt once again.  It was a great experience to get there once again, and if anything it’s going to give me more drive to work even harder on our boat to get here back out as soon as possible.  But of course this night would not have been as special without my wonderful parents, for taking us on this cruise and enjoying their company while we were out.  We were also blessed with a fantastic crew that made the experience incredibly enjoyable and made it feel as if we were out on the water with any number of new cruising friends we make along the way.  The perfect way to wrap up another fantastic visit from my family.

Ft. Lauderdale inlet

17th St. bridge at night

champagne cruise Spirit of Fort Lauderdale

Fort Lauderdale canals

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Throwback Thursday: Where the Sidewalk Ends

Now that we’re sitting in Indiantown Marina and it’s obvious that we’re going to be here for quite a long time while we fix up Daze Off to sail, I don’t want to bore you with stories that are only related to boat work (but don’t worry, they’re still coming).   I know that’s what some of you crave, but if you’re like me, you also need a little fun in there.  A little travel and a little adventure.

So for the foreseeable future while we are doing nothing much more than boat work I will be adding a Throwback Thursday post in every week as well.  Cataloging our trip so far, giving you that needed sense of travel and adventure, and for those of you that haven’t started with us from the beginning, catch you up on some of the most important or memorable parts of our travels.

Moving ourselves just up the coast from Miami, we found a nice little spot in Fort Lauderdale to drop our hook and made that our home for awhile.  I’m not sure if this was ever previously mentioned on the blog, but at this time we were in the middle of trying to purchase a trimaran in Guatemala to flip.  It had been at the marina we were staying at, although we’d never been able to go inside of it.  Long story short, between trying to contact the current owner and have it surveyed, things had been moving very slowly on this.  Although before we could get ourselves to the Bahamas we wanted the process completely wrapped up. Which meant that if the deal did go through, we needed to be near an airport that could quickly get us back there. Spoiler alert: the survey showed rotting and there would have been a lot more time and money spent into fixing this boat up than we were prepared to give.  (Huh….)

During our stay in Fort Lauderdale though, we were able to meet some new cruising friends that we’d been in long distance contact with for awhile, and I was even able to have a girls night out with the lovely Jessica G. of m/v Felicity and Melody of s/v Vacilando. We also happened to be in one space for so long again that Matt’s mom and stepdad jumped on the opportunity to come see us from Michigan since we were so close. Relatively speaking.  Here is the story of when we went to meet them at the airport.

You can find the original post here.

Monday March 17, 2014

sidewalk ends

Let me tell you a little story of a boy and a girl who went out for a walk one day and found out where the sidewalk ends. Could this ‘story’ be about Matt and Jessica you might ask? Ha, of course not. We would never be as stupid as to do these following things.

 

Once upon a time there were a boy and a girl who lived and traveled in their sailboat. After dropping their anchor in a pretty little lake in a place called Fort Lauderdale, the boy received a call from his mother telling him that she and her husband would like to come visit. The boy and girl were very excited about this. So excited, that they decided to meet their family right at the airport when they arrived.

Having walked back from a few marine stores they had just visited a few days prior, the boy realized that the airport was less than a mile from there and thought the walk would be very doable. Was there a bus? Of course there was. But who can’t do with a little extra exercise every now and then. The girl didn’t mind walking too much, but was excited at the prospect of arriving at the airport quite early and using their fast internet connection. There were a few photos and a video she wanted to post online.

Leaving two hours before their families flight was due in, they figured it wouldn’t take them more than an hour to get there, the extra time, the girl willed, could be spent on her computer. The first part of the walk went very well. Following the main streets they had used before they continued forward into new territory and hopefully where the airport was. A few blocks later the girl noticed their four lane road with a median in the center appeared to be turning into an expressway. Based on the signs, it looked as if they would have to walk a half mile of that expressway to get to the airport. The boy could not believe there would not be a back way into the airport where a pedestrian could walk in. Turning down a side street they wandered on through the mass of car rental facilities.

The day was hot and both the boy and girl were beginning to sweat from the heat of the midday sun. The girl was starting to get blisters on her feet as she was only expecting a two mile walk and wore her sandals. Normally a two mile walk in them is not an issue, but she had a feeling they must be clocking mile three by now. As each street turned into a dead end she pleaded with the boy that they could jump on one of the airport shuttle buses and have a comfortable and safe ride the rest of the way. It did not look like the back roads were getting them any closer. The boy scoffed at this offer stating that it wouldn’t be proper for them to accept these services if they were not giving the car rental center their business. Fed up now, she explained that these back roads were getting them nowhere and they would have to walk on the shoulder of the expressway to reach their intended destination.

Tracking back over the asphalt they had just covered, they were now faced with an area where the sidewalk ended. Keeping as far away from traffic as possible, they trudged through the dirt and grass off the side of the expressway until they reached a bridge. With an entrance ramp at the top. Luckily it was mid afternoon on a Monday and traffic was light. Before they knew it they had crossed over the bridge and were back in grass shoulders. Just ahead was the exit for the airport, and although it looked almost a mile long in itself, they were happy to see it.

Kicking up dust with each step, they had finally reached an area where they could see the parking lot to the airport. There was only one problem. They couldn’t find a way into it. Looking further up the road, the expressway exit did not lead them directly to a tree lined entrance with a sidewalk or even soft grass to trample on. What laid ahead was the road curving into another expressway loop with more bridges. There were lots of cars up in that area, and they were all going quite fast. The boy and girl did not feel as comfortable taking on the expressway again.

Searching from left to right, they looked for any other way in. A fence had been running along the side of them for quite some time, and they hoped that further ahead, where a group of bushes were clustered, would be a break in the fence where they could walk into the parking lot. Hiking up the path a little further they saw the fence encircled the entire area. Talking about their options, the girl suggested a taxi to take them the rest of the way. Waiting for five minutes they did not see a single one pass by. They thought about backtracking and trying to catch a bus, but now they had eaten up all their extra time and they could not afford to be late. They were right there, the only thing keeping them out was a fence.

Hot, tired, sweaty, dirty, and after lots of contemplation, they decided to take the easiest option. Tucking behind a tall tree, the boy scaled the fence and beckoned for the girl to join him on the other side. Sticking her toes through the links, she managed to get to the top where sharp metal edges were meeting her. The plastic bottoms of her flip flops balanced  precariously on these pointy spikes while her arms held her steady on a tree branch. Taking a deep breath, she prepared herself for a terrible fall and jumped. Landing almost softly on the ground she took check of any damage to herself. There were a few scrapes on her hands and cuts on her ankles, but otherwise she was fine.

With the parking lot just in front of them, they had only one more obstacle to cross. Just ahead of them was a set of train tracks with low lying cars for items to be placed upon. Once again glancing left and right, the couple hopped over these cars. Free and clear on the other side, they ran into the parking lot to do their best job of blending in with all the other patrons that had arrived by car. They made it all the way inside and to the baggage claim to meet their family without a second glance from anyone.

Running to the restrooms, they took a few minutes to clean themselves up. Twigs were pulled from hair, dirt smudges wiped off of faces, and dust cleaned off of legs and feet. Getting back to the baggage claim just in time to meet up with the boy’s mother and stepfather, they asked how the boy and girl had gotten there that day. Smiling at each other the boy and girl replied, “You don’t even want to know”.

 

Let me repeat again, this story is not about us. I mean, who would be dumb enough to do that? Right?

 

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Off to the Coast!

Fort Lauderdale Beach

It’s vacation time again!  Just five weeks after returning from a week long escape in Stuart with Matt’s family, my parents have just flown in to take us away for a week to Fort Lauderdale. The rents are back for the second time this year and we couldn’t be happier to see them! And I’m sorry, but I do have to take a quick second and poke a little fun at them, as when I called them by this slang term in a post during their previous visit, they had no idea what it meant.  Funny.  I thought I was dating myself by using it.

Anyway….they arrived at the marina on Thanksgiving, but unfortunately a few hours later than all the festivities being held here that day.  We did manage to save them a few plates of turkey, green beans, mashed potatoes with gravy, and even the keg hadn’t been tapped yet so there was still free cold beer to enjoy with our late lunch/early dinner. Having them stay at the only hotel Indiantown has to offer, we all met back up the next morning for breakfast and drove out to see my grandparents in Sebring.

Hopping back in the rental car after a nice afternoon and lunch spent with them (no way we were going to chance the van breaking down driving across the state), we set off for Fort Lauderdale and only had to make one stop at a questionable gas station in Clewston before pulling into our hotel just after the sun set. A little bit different than when we had all taken off to Fort Lauderdale in April, this time we were only a block from the beach, staying in a high rise with the Atlantic on one side and the ICW on the other. It was a balmy yet very windy night, although it was not stop us from taking a stroll down Beach Blvd.  Even in the dark and across the street we could see giant waves crashing against the shore, and before we even left I knew it would be necessary to change from my dress into jeans.  Not because of dropping temperatures, but because if I hadn’t I would have ended up with it over in my head. Trust me, it was doing a good job of trying in the parking lot upon our arrival.

Since I had underestimated the size of the city blocks here (or had only read street names with bridges), I had vastly misjudged our distance from Sunrise down to Las Olas Blvd, where all the happening bars and restaurants were, so instead of making it down there to possibly grab a drink we turned around and took the back roads back to the hotel where we were slightly blocked from the strong east winds. Not to let that hold us back from enjoying that beer together, we got in the car once more to do a little necessary grocery shopping at the Publix up the road and stocked ourselves up on some Dos XX and limes to get us through the next few days.  Ending the night in front of the tv, we were all exhausted after our recent traveling over the past few days, barley keeping our eyes open through an interesting reenactment of the Donner party.  You may joke, but I honestly would have been in bed an hour earlier if we hadn’t been watching it.

In the morning we took our sweet time getting ready, with really no place to be.  Sitting over coffee and each person person playing on their computer or tablet for bit (I may be a little ashamed to admit that I’ve been spending a bit too much time with our Instagram account lately, getting it going) we did force ourselves out for a daylight walk before lunch, walking across the draw bridge to watch the sailboats going south, and then out to the beach to stick our toes in the water.

Jessica and parents

Jessica & parents

Matt at draw bridge

sail boats under draw bridge

Fort Lauderdale

day at beach

We’ve been spending a few days just relaxing around the condo, getting the use of a full kitchen again, and even running some errands around town.  It’s never a bad day when your parents want to take you shopping at Bed Bath & Beyond to help you stock up your galley with gadgets and provide you with new bath towels since the ones you have are six years old.  Ick.  We also took an afternoon to go to the movie theater and see the newest Hunger Games.  We even ended up at one of those fancy movie theaters where they serve food and drinks during the show.  A literal dinner & a movie date.  We skipped on the food, but most of us did partake in an adult beverage.  Watching a movie on the big screen with an ice cold Sam Adams in my hand?  A pretty cool way to spend an afternoon.

Speaking of going out for a beer, we also somewhat ran into some cruising friends here!  For the past two years we’ve been talking to and trying to meet up with Rebecca and Brian of Summertime Rolls.  There’s even been more than one occasion where we’ve missed each other by only a day or to.  Us getting to the Bahamas a day or two after they left; or them arriving to the Virgin Islands only a few days after we left. When they had seen on our Facebook page that we were in Ft. Lauderdale they let us know they happened to be just up the road!

Finding an Irish Pub one block up from us that had a very good happy hour, the four of us finally met and spent a good few hours talking about our past few years sailing.  Not only have we cruised so many of the same grounds, but our social circles consist of basically all the same people, so the conversations were endless. Definitely a bit of fun and unexpected serendipity thrown into our schedule.  I can’t wait to see what the rest of our time here holds for us.

drinks w. Summertime Rolls

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The Rents are Back in Town!

Tuesday April 28, 2015

parents overlooking Ft. Lauderdale

My parents are in Fort Lauderdale visiting us, and this is the first time I have seen them in nearly two and a half years.  Sure, there was that time in March ’13 where they had bought plane tickets to meet us in Panama where we never showed up (still in Florida!!) or when they were just about to pin down a condo in Turkey this past fall when we had to phone them and say “Guess what?  We bought a boat in Florida, so we’re not actually going to make it to the Med!”, but this is the first time they’ve been able to catch us in a place we said we’d actually be.  Cause let’s be honest.  The middle of Florida beats out all those places anyway, why wouldn’t we want to spend the next 9 months of our lives here?

With all of those previous mis-plans however, a two bedroom suite was booked in Fort Lauderdale and plane tickets were purchased with the hope we’d still be around when they arrived.  Luckily for them, we were.  Since we’re still vehicle-less at the moment they took a night to settle in before making the run out to Indiantown to pick us up and wrap us in extremely long bear hugs that had been postponed for way too long.  A tour of Serendipity wasn’t necessary since they’d been on her a few times in Michigan but we did get to show them the newest project on our hands.

Finding the most stable ladder we could find, we guided them up to the mess that is currently Daze Off to show them what kind of trouble we had gotten ourselves into.  My mom was quite optimistic and kept commenting on all those house flipping shows you see on tv and said, “You can do the same thing to this boat.”.  Let’s hope she’s right.  My dad, who has built four of our houses himself, could easily see the long road we have ahead of us.

Loading all our belongings plus Georgie into the rental car, we made our way out of the marina only to head further into the center of Florida.  My grandparents (on my dad’s side) happen to live only 90 minutes from where we are staying and since the whole fam happened to be here (well, enough of us anyway) we couldn’t miss out on a trip to see them.  A few hours were spent in their house catching up on the past year of our lives, and also watching how Georgie interacted with their two cats.  For once she actually wasn’t the dominating one chasing others down, but instead cowering behind curtains and pretending she was invisible.

When it was time for an early dinner the six of us piled into our cars and made our way out to a nice restaurant where Matt and I excitedly chowed down on the first steaks we’d had in probably over a year.  Extra bloody for me….mmmmm.  When the plates were clean and we’d stuffed enough biscuits and cinnamon butter into a doggy bag to last us all week, we took the long road back to Fort Lauderdale.  Traveling through the one road that leads through the Everglades going east, we found ourselves in a traffic jam due to a terrible accident.

Directly in front of us was a biker gang and their supply vehicle.  Since no one was making any progress forward we’d see plenty of people stepping out of their vehicles or off their bikes and wandering around.  Lots of the bikers were meandering back to the support vehicle which was directly in front of us to grab bottles of water…but then a few of them looked like they were reaching into a cooler to snatch a jell-o shot and throw it back.  The first time we were confused, but then we watched it happen again and again.  Just before traffic began inching forward I was tempted to go up and ask for one myself.

Once at the condo we were greeted with all the luxuries we’d been missing for so long.  Air conditioning, storage space for all our belongings, television, and a bed we could actually spread out in and let our feet dangle off the side.  Come to think of it, the AC might have been the best part of it all since the boat has been getting upwards of 95 degrees every afternoon lately. It didn’t take us long to settle in and even Georgie had fun exploring all these new and unknown spaces.

parents on Daze Off

Georgie at grandparent's house

Jessica with parents and grandparents

4.28.15 (3)

 Since Matt and I had spent a good month in Fort Lauderdale with Serendipity last year, we decided to tak my parents to our old stomping grounds including Pier 66, the marina where we luckily had a friend that let us tie our dinghy to his boat since there are little to no dinghy landings around here.  Driving toward the shore we had them park the rental car just past one of the main lift bridges that we always used to have to traverse to get to the grocery store, and took a stroll up to the center to give them an idea of what kind of yachts were kept in this area.  Spoiler alert: not small ones!

Taking in a luxury that none of us will ever be acquainted with, we walked back down the bridge and into Pier 66 so they could get a look at some of these yachts up close.  Matt and I told them a story of how we had been here just a year ago with his mom and step-dad and had seen Steven Spielberg’s mega yacht parked right up on the side with it’s 30 or so full time crew members taking a break in the galley, and how we’d thought it would be the largest thing we’d ever see…until we arrived in Sint Maarten a few months earlier and saw yachts that doubled the size of his.

yachts at 17th St. Causeway

Matt & dad at 17th St. Causeway

mom & dad at Pier 66

Next item of the day was lunch and Las Olas Beach. Even though the sky was overcast and rain was threatening to pour down at any moment and there was no way we’d spent our afternoon sunning ourselves in the sand, it was still worth checking out.  Before we could get there though we ran them up to the highest floor we could reach to give them a glimpse of Lake Sylvia and where we had Serendipity anchored for a month last year.  The perfect little protected area just off the ICW where we even felt fine leaving her on her own for a 2 day run down to Miami.

It wasn’t quite as impressive as when the sun is shining and everything is bright, so after just a few glances back and forth we went back to the car and Las Olas.  Just like Ocean Drive in South Beach, there is a huge strip of restaurants that advertise their drink specials more than what is on their menu.  And while a few of those beer buckets did look tempting, we had plenty of those back at the condo and good food is what we were really after.  When we’d passed by the happy hour hot spots, I remembered that when we were here last year a friend had recommended a little place called Lulu’s Bait Shack as a good place on the beach to grab a bite to eat.

Situated right between Hooters and Fat Tuesday, Lulu’s wasn’t quite the authentic fish shack that it’s name might suggest, but it looked quirky and fun and was certainly different than most of the other restaurants around. Perusing the menu, both my mom and I ordered a Lulu’s exclusive ale while the boys went for the bigger domestics on special, and I thought gator bites would be a nice little lunch, especially since I didn’t like the way the ones we encountered on the St. Lucie River were looking at Georgie on our way into Indiantown.

When lunch was over we took a quick stroll through the sand and realized the rain we’d been seeing off the in distance was probably going to hit us sooner rather than later, so we packed it in for the afternoon.

Two years has been much too long since my last visit with my parents, but I’m so overjoyed that not only are they here now, but we’ve been able to squeeze so much into our time together already, plus all of our time has been spent together.  Sightseeing in the afternoon, dinners back at the condo, and finishing off our nights with a movie and ice cream.  I an tell the rest of this week is going to go by way too fast!

overlooking Ft. Lauderdale

lunch at Lulu's

with parents at Las Olas Beach

Las Olas Beach, Ft. Lauderdale

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The Bimini Road

Monday April 7, 2014

sunrise on the Gulf Stream

As with any late timed departure that we need to make for a passage, we can never seem to wait long enough for the alarm to actually go off before we get to anxious and want to get underway. Usually there is a forced after dinner nap which never actually happens, and instead of waiting for the clock to tick by extra minutes as we lie there awake, we figure it’s better just to get the show on the road. Luckily this has never afforded us a before sunrise approach yet.

Looking at the clock as it dragged to only ten o’clock, three hours before our intended departure time, we figured it was better to get in too early than too late. Even if we could manage the 48 miles from Ft. Lauderdale to Bimini in ten hours, it would still be light enough for us to make our way in the harbor. Raising the anchor as all the boats in the lake were silent and still around us, we navigated out the tricky entrance and into the ICW. Hailing our friendly bridge operator at the 17th St. Causeway, we slid under and were quickly on our way out the Port Everglades inlet with our bow pointed a few degrees south of Bimini to make up for the push of the Gulf Stream. After verifying our course of 120 degrees and sitting with Matt until we were out of range for the late night shipping traffic that was exiting with us, I took my leave to get a few hours of sleep.

17th St. Causeway at night

ICW at night

Since we had both basically been up all night my sleep was cut short after only an hour and a half when Matt’s head starting nodding off too many times and he needed to seek refuge in the comfort of the sette. Harnessing in and taking my spot in the cockpit, I was pointed out the numerous cruise ships that were transporting their hoards of tourist between the Bahamas and the States, but told that everything else looked fine. It wasn’t until Matt was (quickly) snoring below that I noticed that one thing wasn’t quite as I had hoped. We had obviously entered the Gulf Stream, and that 120 degrees we had been holding so perfectly was now faltering to a mere sixty degrees.

We had expected to be pushed a few miles north of where we actually wanted to be, and anticipating this, left ourselves plenty of time to make it there once day broke. This is why we had felt so comfortable leaving at such an early time in the night. Trying to send all the good vibes I could from myself and into the boat, I tried to mentally convince it to point further south. When this didn’t seem to work I took to reasoning with the stream itself, begging for it to end as soon as possible. Once we didn’t have the force against us we could head directly south if we needed to, I just hoped it would be sooner than later. By the time my three hour shift was up, none of my reasoning had done any good against the stubborn boat and the stubborn Gulf Stream. Having the opposite effect that I’d hoped, I actually seemed to infuriate both of them and they conspired to work against me, pushing us off course even more into the fifty degree range. I gave up and hoped the master of sail trim coming up to replace me could work his magic on the situation.

Gulf Stream Sunrise

Serendipity on the Gulf Stream

The next time I was up on deck I had not been greeted with the results I was hoping for. We weren’t doing quite as bad as when I had left, but we still weren’t able to point ourselves toward Bimini. This is the day the stream decided to take up the whole expanse between Florida and the Bahamas. When we had finally reached a point that we were at least in the same longitude of Bimini, we pointed the bow due South, and right into the wind, and motored on with the most pathetic progress I’d ever seen. I’ve become quite used to our downwind travels of at least five to six knots, and the fact that we weren’t even doing close to that was complete torture. And it seemed like no matter how far east we were, we could not escape the clutches of the stream. Even though our heading was pointing us toward the safe haven and peaceful night of slumber that is Bimini harbor, our course was slowly but surely sneaking in a southwest direction. Eventually I had enough and tacked the boat so that we were pointing, both with heading and course, directly into the middle of the island. I’d run us up on the beach if that’s what it took to escape the forces working against us.

This plan seemed to actually do the trick. We crashed through the building wind and waves, but we were finally heading in a direction we actually wanted to go. Normally the last two to three hours of a passage will drive me insane, seeing your destination right in front of you but knowing you’re still a few hours away from actually getting there, but this time I could do nothing but smile that we would actually make it there before dark. Coasting in from thousands of feet to only 40, I waited until we were just a few minutes from the channel entrance before waking Matt from his afternoon nap to have him help me navigate in.

Matching up the multiple sets of charts we have to make sure the buoys were correct and marked what they claimed to, I figured this last bit would be a piece of cake. I was just about to cross in front of the first green buoy and round into the channel when out of nowhere the engine cut out on us. By this point we weren’t actually in the channel yet, but depths had gotten down to fifteen feet and a very swift current was about to send me directly into green buoy number 1. While Matt was having a quick panic attack and a cuss storm a few feet ahead of me, I calculated my options. Try to start the engine again? Roll out the headsail? No, not enough time. Steer into the current to avoid the buoy but then put myself in the channel and possibly the shoals without total control?

Within ten seconds, of which felt like an eternity, the engine was purring again and I was able to narrowly avoid the buoy as I gunned us into the channel under full throttle, afraid to douse it any for fear it might shut off again. Shooting into the channel at seven knots, I was not able to regain my breath until we had gotten through the worst parts and were now passing by the marinas lining the entrance to the harbor. Confident that we could drop the anchor in this part of the channel if absolutely necessary I let myself pull back on the throttle while Matt brought down the main and we continued to cruise in at just over four knots now.

Still trying to avoid marinas since we like to be at anchor whenever possible, we noticed the first marked anchorage just past Bimini Big Game Club was a little too crowded. Resigning ourselves to the only other anchorage, a mile down the channel, I tried not to let myself get upset about the long dinghy ride in my near future to get us checked in, but only focused on the fact that in just a few minutes the anchor would be down and I could spend the rest of my day night fighting the elements. I don’t know if it was just bad luck that we received or if I should have heeded the warnings that it’s better to cross from Miami than Ft. Lauderdale, but I will give this one tip. Don’t ever cross from Ft. Lauderdale. Spend the extra day and get yourself down to No Name Harbor first. You’re likely to have a much better crossing than we did.

dinghy dock in Bimini

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Last Sunset in Florida?

Friday April 5, 2014

sunset on Lake Sylvia

This morning we were Bahama bound. At least, we thought we were. It’s not like this is our first rodeo, so we thought we had done everything necessary to get ourselves going. We had a good weather window, the diesel was topped off, provisions for the next 4-6 weeks had been tucked away (I know you can still buy food in the Bahamas, but come on, at those prices?), and we had just found a killer sale at Publix on their soda for 2-for-1. Yes, we were ready to head back to those crystal clear waters and white sand beaches.

A few unsuccessful naps had been attempted in the afternoon and evening, but by 1 am we were awake and finishing the last minute preps to get underway. Everything that was susceptible to gravity was put away and Georgie was wrangled, quite easily this time, into her harness. The engine was purring and all we had to do was get the anchor up and get on our way. Then curse words started flying back at me from the bow, spoken quietly enough though as not to wake our sleeping neighbors. Our bow navigation light that we had just replaced in Cozumel was now corroded and no longer working. We no longer had running lights for this trip. Kind of an important thing when you’re jumping across these shipping lanes in the middle of the night.

We talked about our options. Back in Cozumel when we had run into this issue, it wasn’t until we were coming into the harbor just after dark when we realized they were out. I was sent to the bow for the last 30 minutes with two headlamps in my hands, a red one to point to port and a green one to point to starboard. I was pretty sure that I could not, would not, stand at the bow for the next six hours doing the same thing this time around. Then we tried tying them to the cleats, but we knew that would probably only get us as far as the entrance to the Gulf Stream before they washed off. Do we chance it? Even then, we still wouldn’t be able to do any night sailing once we got to the Bahamas.

I hate to say this, but at 1:30 am, my bed was calling to me louder than the Bahamas. Why chance today what you can properly do tomorrow. So it was decided that after we woke up we’d make a run to West Marine or Boat Owner’s Warehouse and purchase and install a new one. This time a fully encased one that hopefully won’t let in salt water and corrode. It’s getting a little tiring replacing that thing every 4-6 months.

The funny thing to the whole situation though was Georgie’s reaction. Even though we’d called off the passage and were not even moving, the fact that the engine was running and she had her harness on was enough to get her into super-affectionate passage mode. Where, once we start traveling, she becomes your shadow. Follows you up and down the companionway and sits as high on your chest as possible when you’re resting. She didn’t get the memo that she was safe for the night. Poor thing was still all over us as we sat in the salon below, pouring over the West Marine catalog and the next day’s forecast. Pick me up. Don’t let me go. Love me, love me, love me. There’s Pavlov’s Theory on dogs, but I think we’ve just come up with Johnson’s Theory on cats. Make them think that they’re going on passage and they turn into a cuddly anxious mess. I think I might turn to this whenever I feel lonely and need some of her headbutt affection.

sunset on Lake Sylvia

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The Wishing Paper

Tuesday April 1, 2014

Vacilando

Now that we no longer have anything keeping us in Florida besides waiting on the next weather window, it was time to orchestrate one last get together with our Fort Lauderdale friends. Since Melody and Chris have a nice little set up where their boat is located, complete with a grill, a pool, and great views, they invited to have us all over tonight to grill up some burgers and dogs and begin the process of our sad good-byes.

It was bittersweet even as we arrived, the excitement of seeing my friends mixed with the last time that we would see them.  And happening upon the awesome set up that Chris and Melody truly do have, my thoughts kind of edges toward ‘Do we really have to go to the Bahamas?  Can’t we just stay here and hang out with our friends?’.  I can see why so many people get down here and stay much longer than they intended.  If you get in to the right areas, Ft. Lauderdale is a pretty awesome place.

The grill was fired up just after we got there, and laughing a little, we found out that we’d brought the same exact potato salad and Gordon and Jessica did to share.  The fridge was starting to look like the deli aisle at Publix, but if that item is as good as they claim it is, I’m sure it will be cleared out by the rest of the night.  I also played a game of rotating drinks with Chris where I promised him one of my huge 24 oz cans of Foster for one of his Yuenglings.  I blame the Skelton Crew for getting me hooked on those, but honestly, I think the addiction started in Annapolis.

The burgers that Chris grilled up ended up being to die for, and I’m not just saying that because I was completely starved after spending all afternoon running around town trying to get a cab that would take us to the vet to get Georgie’s rabies titer test for the EU, and then walking half way back to the boat because they would speed by as soon as they saw we had a cat in our arms.  Nope, even if I wan’t on the verge of being malnourished, these still would have been some of the best burgers ever.  Mix that with steak, awesome cheese, even better friends, and a breathtaking sunset….sigh.  I wish this night could last forever.

Gordon, Jessica, Matt

Melody & Jessica G

Chris on the grill

Matt getting food

A surprise later that evening that we weren’t expecting, or maybe Melody knew it was coming, was that Chris had procured a bottle of champagne to celebrate that after two and a half years, Melody had gotten her braces off. Not even bothering to try and find glasses for everyone at the table, we took turns hoisting it in the air and sipping it straight from the bottle as a victory for metal free teeth everywhere.

Melody drinking champagne

Jessica J drinking champagne

Jessica G drinking champagne

Before anyone could leave for the night, Jessica announced that she had a treat for us and that she needed five volunteers to gather at the bar for an activity. Was this going to be anything like the time I volunteered for the game of musical chairs back in Guatemala where I was forced to take a shot of rum for each round that I stayed in? Cause I’m not sure if I want to play that again right now. Or…maybe I do? Either way I didn’t have to worry about shots of alcohol being forced on me, and should have taken the hint when ten year old Gia lined up next to me at the bar.

This was something much more family friendly, and actually very sweet and cute and something that could only have been thought up by Jessica. The five of us were given a sheet of very thin tissue paper placed on a card depicting a cherry blossom tree, and made me think for a moment that we might be participating in an origami folding contest. Squashing that impression, we were each then handed a pencil and told to write down a wish on the piece of paper. No one else would see the wish, and you were supposed to make it something you deeply desired. After each wish had been printed, we were instructed to crumble up the sheet of paper while fixating on that wish. Once that was done we smoothed the sheet back out.

Now it was time for the interesting and fun part. Once your wish was smoothed back out, you shaped the paper into a cylinder and stood it upright on your cherry blossom cut out. Then a flame was taken to the piece of paper, and if at the end your piece floated into the air, it meant your wish would come true. A few of us took to holding the bottom parts of the cylinder as the flame crept down, just to keep it from blowing away in the wind, but a good percentage of us watched our wished sail into the night sky, sure that luck would be on our side. For a few other unfortunate people, their wish flopped down and burned to a crisp on top of their cherry blossom. As for Matt, his piece lifted off the ground at the last second and floated right into Jessica’s eye. We’re still trying to figure out what that means for him.

Then, it was time to start our good-byes.  In the shortish-longish time that we’ve been here in Fort Lauderdale, this group has wound their way into the fabric that is our lives, and we are so thankful that we had the chance to get to know them, even if it was only momentarily. Bonds like these can’t be broken very easily and I have no doubt that no matter where we all end up in life, we’ll always be able to count on each other for anything from laughs to support, and most likely, boat advice.

Boat friends are always a hard thing to let go, but as we’ve learned, saying goodbye for now doesn’t necessarily mean forever.  Just like I had no doubt that we would make to to Ft. Lauderdale to see them in the first place, I have no doubt that our paths will cross once more somewhere in this world.

Melody w/ the guys

wishing paper

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Photo Caption Day: Museum of Discovery and Science

Tuesday March 18, 2014

Matt conducting electricity

Of course Chris and Jack’s first day in Florida would come complete with clouds and the threat of rain.  The sunshine state?  Not feeling so sunny today.  After some running around town yesterday and showing them how the bus system works when you actually choose to use it (long story where their car rental facility was quite far from the airport) we spent the evening researching indoor activities we could do today.

Through separate searches but at the top of the list for both groups, was the Museum of Discovery and Science.  Geared more toward kids than adults, we weren’t going to let our elderly and childless status stop us from having fun and exploring all the exhibits featuring sections on aviation, weather systems, and the human body.  Throw in an IMAX movie about the South Pacific and a simulator on an Everglades airboat, and we were having such a good time that they had to kick us out the door at closing time.

Matt with flight simulator

Matt:  “If you can sail a boat, you can fly a plane”.  Ok, maybe he didn’t say that.

Jessica with flight simulator

Con-cen-trate!  There are lives at stake here!

Jessica w/ foam airplane wings

Don’t ever trust me to fly a plane, I have my wings on backwards.

Crystal with foam airplane wings

“I can feel the wind in my hair!!”

Matt w/ foam airplane wings

I don’t know.  I think the blue skies and clouds really make it feel real.

Jack with flight simulator

If I understand these instructions correctly, first you put your right leg in, then you take your right leg out.

Matt at flight simulator 2

I can do this in my sleep.  It doesn’t even take two hands.

afraid of falling

Afraid of heights?  Let us show you what it feels like to fall backwards.

Jack surfing

True blue surfer?  Maybe not.  That’s ok, the rest of us weren’t either.

Matt & Jessica in ambulance

“Think anyone realizes we’re not registered to do this?”

Jack & elephant

“Just scratch him behind his heel, he’ll purr like a kitten.”

Jessica in shark's mouth

I know how I got in here, I’m just not sure how to get out..

 

 

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Cheeseburger in Paradise

Friday March 14, 2014

Jessica with cheeseburger cake

You know those group messages you can do on Facebook?  Where you can add however many people you’d like but still keep the conversation private?  Well after our girls night out, the three of us started one to talk about how much fun we had, and that it needed to be done again….soon.  The only problem was that I would only catch parts of the conversation because, even though we get to sit by a gorgeous pool while we do it, Matt only has the patience to sit around while I get my internet fix for about 90 minutes every other day.  I know I can go back and read more of the conversation that I missed, but it’s easier just to read the last two posts and make assumptions.  Which is why when we were planning another get together, I caught the date/time, that I was to bring guacamole, and there would be a cheeseburger cake.  Um..ok?

Getting picked up by G again at the marina, he told us the cake was actually a birthday surprise for their friend Sandy that was joining our cookout that night.  She’s really into Jimmy Buffet and loves ‘Cheeseburger in Paradise’. Ok, it all makes sense now.  Only I had to keep in mind, it was all a surprise.  Getting to the house and pouring myself a tall Fosters, I had to force myself to remember not to say anything about a cheeseburger cake as I was introduced to Sandy.  Not an easy feat.  I mean, it’s a cheeseburger cake, who can keep that to themselves for a few hours or not go off on a tangent about Jimmy Buffet, Key West, or ‘Cheeseburger in Paradise’ without raising suspicion?  Luckily before I could ruin the surprise, Jessica took me for another tour of Felicity and showed off their most recent work to her.

m/v Felicity side

m/v Felicity front

Jessica G. & cat

Jessica's patio

Not too long after that, Melody arrived and we were able to grill up the actual hamburgers for dinner.  A little tip..add some guacamole for one of the best burgers you’ve ever had.  When we were all sufficiently stuffed and could not even think about putting another bite of food in our mouths, cue the cake.  But that wasn’t all.  We also had ‘Cheeseburger in Paradise all cued up on the stereo, and Adam has his guitar out and strumming while the candles were lit and we went the whole nine yards with the theme.  I think Sandy was quite surprised.

cheeseburger cake

You know what comes after cake right?  Shots of tequila.  The two are quite synonyms with each other, don’t you think?  No?  Ok, maybe not.  But the bottle was placed in front of us girls by G and we couldn’t turn down the challenge.  In fact, we turned the tables on the guys and made such a big ordeal of it, with different photos and poses, that I’m sure all they were thinking was ‘Why did we even think this was a good idea? Take the damn shots already!’.

3.14.14 (6)

See no evil, Hear no evil, Speak no evil.  See what happens when you put girls and cameras together?

(I was secretly loving every minute of it.)

see no evil

There’s only one logical thing for girls to do after they take a shot of tequila.  Hula hoop.  I guess you could say we were the after dinner entertainment?

3.14.14 (7)

Jessica & Jessica hula hooping

Exhausting ourselves with the great exercise that provided, and then pigging out on cheeseburger cake, we moved on to an activity that everyone could participate in.  Passing the guitar over to Chris, we requested songs and had him play as we all sang along.  Watch out Johnny Cash, us girls are creeping up on your heels with our version of Folsom Prison Blues.

Jessica & Chris

 Although it was starting to get late, we couldn’t let Melody leave without showing her the awesome moves that Jessica and I had picked up from her Wii dance game.  Although secretly, I just wanted to break out the moves to Will Smith’s ‘Wild Wild West’ again.  Consider it the cowgirl in me.  I am a born Texan after all.

dancing at Jessica's

Being able to spend another night with this great group of people?  I’m pretty sure that’s paradise.  Don’t discount the cheeseburgers though.

Vacilando and Felicity

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