with parents at Las Olas Beach

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. Unfortunately, areas like this are definitely prone to car and truck accidents.

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

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 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

10.26.12 (1)

Throwback Thursday: Hurricane Holing

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 Serendipity to sell and 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.

This week’s installment tells about when we were stuck in Virginia as Hurricane Sandy came rolling through. Our first big storm, but we prepared ourselves well and luckily had lots of warning. Too bad the weather after this went from gorgeous fall days to ‘you’re going to freeze your butts off until you reach Florida’. You can find the original post here.

Friday October 26, 2012

This morning we had to leave our sweet little spot in Jackson Creek to find a hurricane hole to settle in to for the next few days. Already having gone over it countless times with Rode Trip, the guys had found ‘the perfect secluded spot’ that we hoped no one else would know about although I was never shown the map on the tablet and had no idea the name of the location we were headed to except for it was off the Piankatank River. Making a quick stop at the marina we filled our diesel and topped off the water tanks which were getting low enough to worry us should we be stuck for longer than expected. After we had upped anchor to get to the marina another boat had just come in the channel and into the creek. Passing us by they asked if we were on the way to the marina to be pulled out or if we were on the move. We quickly replied as they passed by that we were on the move and they answered they were in line to pull out and wished us a safe journey. Then speaking to a few fellow boaters at the docks while self serving the fuel Matt got into a conversation with the other boats around and all of them were being pulled out as well. So far it seemed we were the only souls brave enough to stay in the water.

This of course to Matt meant that we surely were crazy and everyone else must know something if everyone else was being pulled out. We knew our boat insurance would cover a good portion of it and we shortly debated if we should follow the pack. Just a couple of months before we had shopped around for a strong insurance, and we decided on caribbean yacht insurance, which was very reliable and we found the terms very agreeable and favorable. Still, we’d much rather have our boat in one piece and ready to go than to have to fix it somehow, insurance or not. Going to the office to pay for the fuel I made some small talk with the clerk on the situation since he looked like he had been around long enough to see a few of these roll in before. Knowing their schedule was jam packed already I asked if he thought it was wise for us to pull out at any of the marinas in the area, trying not to have his decision made by if they had time to squeeze in one more boat, and he asked where we were planning to go if we stayed in the water. ‘Up a river, up a Creek’ was all I could tell him since that’s all I really knew,… ‘Hopefully someplace no one else knows about and it won’t be crowded’. I didn’t even give him a remote location and he replied with ‘The locals know. There isn’t a hurricane hole around here they don’t know about. And we’re telling anyone who asks, go to Wilton Creek, about a mile up the river here. You’ll be fine though.’ Hmmm, his broadcasted location sounded eerily similar to what the guys described to me and if there was one thing I didn’t want it was a hurricane hole full of other boats.

Pushing ourselves out of the slip, we saw Rode Trip lifting their anchor and we all made our way back out the narrow and winding channel and toward Fishing Bay where we’d enter the Piankatank. Even though yesterday was sunny, warm, and beautiful, the temperature had taken a huge plummet and the wind whipped through cloudy skies. As soon as we were in open water again the wind jumped up to twenty-five knots and the bay became choppy. A light fog rolled off the tree tops and chilled the air even more than it already was. Although I knew better, it looked as if the hurricane was only a day behind us and all of a sudden didn’t feel so silly or over prepared for staking our location three days before the storm was predicted to come.

Making our way further up the river the protection of trees on each side calmed the wind down five to ten knots but it was still blustery and cold. Just using Rode Trip as our leader since I was still in the dark of where we were actually going, I scanned ahead on the chart plotter to survey each creek coming up. Most of them appeared to be pretty shallow, about five to six feet even at the entrance, so I assumed they were not the ones we’d be staying in. As we passed the last bend in the river before a low clearance bridge we would not be able to go under, there was only one creek left on the map. It was long and started out deep going down to five feet near it’s head. I scrolled further in on the chart. Name: Wilton Creek.

Now knowing for sure that this is where the marina was trying to send everyone and their mother I just hoped we had gotten there early enough to find a spot far up the river so if anyone else came in the creek they’d have to be behind us. After Kim & Scott’s stories the night before my worst fear was some unbenounced cruiser who’s anchor was dragging and they came careening right at us with not much we could do to stop them. Rounding the corner into the creek we saw no one. Moving further up the creek we began to see boats on docks but so far no one was anchored in the middle. Going up to the point where the charts showed a six foot depth our sounder was still showing nine feet and we figured we’d keep going until it showed seven.

Spacing ourselves widely apart, Rode Trip dropped their anchor just north of us and we dropped close to an inlet in the creek we thought would give us better wind protection. After backing down on the chain at a six to one scope though we realized that we were alarmingly close to shore and when more chain needed to be let out for higher winds, there was a good chance we might swing in to shore. We thought about moving to a few different locations but because of a dock on one side and and piece of land jutting out on the other we couldn’t see a good spot that would give us 360 degrees of swing with 100 feet of chain out and not bash into something somewhere.

To get a little perspective we dropped the dinghy and went to visit Rode Trip to see how their spot was and also check some weather forecast since they usually have internet on their tablet. Sitting on their deck and assessing the situation we found we were much further from them than we had originally thought and if we came a little further up there may be a spot in the middle of the creek that gave us the swing room we needed. Working the windlass the anchor came up covered in a thick heavy mud that seemed to have suctioned it down. Even though it smelled like crap I was happy to see the creek should be giving us good holding. Making sure to mark on the charplotter where we dropped anchor this time we backed down once more but still weren’t sure of our decision, based on the predicted wind directions for the next few days and where we may swing. Now we seemed too close for comfort to the jutting land but as I mentioned to Matt, we still had a few days before the storm to get a better prediction of winds and could still change location if necessary.

With that taken care of for the moment we started hurricane preparations with the assumption we could get up to sixty mile per hour winds in hour hole. The first thing to go was the head sail which we rolled up and stored below. Then jerrycans were moved from the deck into the cockpit. All lines were tightened and wrapped. The dodger and bimini would be coming down as well but we wanted to leave them up for another day just to get their protection as long as we could. In just over an hour we had done everything we felt we could do that day and moved on to other projects like sanding the toe rails at the foredeck.

While Matt sanded and I sat reading we had a visitor stop by, someone who lived in one of the houses on the creek who was out kayaking and came by to talk to us about the storm. He eased our fears when he said that usually not more than ten boats would ever be in the creek and not more than two or three ever came up as far as we were. That helped out tremendously as we were worried that there was too much space between us and Rode Trip and that some eager last minute sailor would try and squeeze in. As we talked to the guy a little longer he showed us where his house and dock were and said we’d be more than welcome to tie our dinghy up there if we wanted to get out and stretch our legs and if we needed a ride into town to the grocery store, etc., he’d be more than happy to take us. Then we found out he also had a Sabre 34 and the two guys went on about hull designs and specs while I smiled and nodded.

In the late afternoon Rode trip came over for quick use of our internet and we all went over weather reports and what’s predicted in the area. It sounds like the rain will start tomorrow, wind will begin to pick up on Sunday, and the storm will hit or come close to us on Monday. We looked at grib files for the next few days and also checked out information on NOAA about storm surges in our area for past storms. I think if it’s four feet or less we’ll be fine. All that was left to do was plan a time to get together and drink hurricanes (a combination of rums and fruity mixers) that Stephanie had stocked up on in town. We decided that Saturday would probably be the latest any of us would feel safe leaving our boats unattended and made plans to get together the next night. Stephanie and I like to joke though that we’ll end up doing a girl boat and a boy boat so us girls can hang out and play games while the guys talk boats and weather. I’m not sure if either of the guys feel good about leaving us alone on a boat during a storm. I think I’d have to second that motion.

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Simone, Dan & Bobby

Muy Caliente

Wednesday April 22, 2015

Simone, Dan & Bobby

For almost every day of the week, the local saloon up the road has some kind of dinner special which is usually too good to pass up and draws a lot of cruisers and locals alike.  Monday it’s $0.50 sliders, Tuesday is dollar tacos, and Wednesday is $0.60 wings.  Add that to their happy hour of $1 drafts and it’s no surprise that everyone from the marina makes their way up there within a few days of arriving.

Having already done hot wing night with the Sailing Conductors, I was extremely cautious in my choice of sauce and went mild instead of hot or even muy caliente.  In a location with so many Mexican and Guatemalan immigrants you don’t want to mess with spice because they know how to do it right.  My mild wings were perfect for me and honestly I could have probably handled something a little stronger.  When Ben offered me one of his muy caliente wings I got it down without a problem and we began to have sneaking suspicions that there was only one sauce being used in the kitchen and being labeled with whichever multitude of spiciness that was requested.

After our new Aussie friends had been here only a couple of days, they also made their way out for wing night and I mentioned that the muy caliente spice was laughable and if they had any desire for something spicy it might still not fill their needs.  I was wrong.  When we saw them the next day they ranted on about how hot the wings actually were and everyone at the table was pouring sweat the entire time they were eating. Maybe the ‘one sauce for all’ incident was a one time thing and Ben and Hannes had lucked out on their batch not turning them into fire breathers.

Well, as you know, payback is a bitch and there was no way that Dan, Simone and Bobby were going to let another Wing Wednesday pass by without dragging me to the bar to eat a batch dripping wet in muy caliente sauce since I had forced them to do the same the previous week.  Still wanting to go easy on myself, I split my order up between this spicy she-devil when we arrived and a much more mild orange tequila flavor.

When the wings came I timidly took a bite into my first one and thought ‘This isn’t so bad…I think Ben was right, this is the same sauce that was on my mild wings’.  Then a few bites later the heat kicked in and beads of sweat were beginning to trickle down my forehead as well.  Finishing off my Yuengling I picked up my second hot wing and couldn’t even get all the way through it before I was grabbing an ice cold Corona from the beer bucket the Aussies had ordered.

Putting the remaining hot wings on hold for a few minutes I moved on to the orange tequila ones to give myself a break, only to find out that any food that went into my mouth burned like hell.  I couldn’t eat anything at the moment.  Eventually my mouth cooled enough that I was able to regain the use of my taste buds and finished the orange tequila wings while being able to somewhat enjoy them.  Then having a fresh cold beer by my side I went after the last three hot wings only to find out that you mouth numbs itself after 1-2 of them, and the third one wasn’t so hard to get down.

After wings we moved over to the pool tables when a few guys that work at the marina showed up and had already bought a few buckets to share with us.  Who can turn that down?  My billiard skills were put to the test where I failed horribly playing against Simone.  Three games later I had to walk away before I could embarrass myself any further, and all of us realized that our quick dinner out was actually quickly turning into closing down the bar.  So it goes when you have friends around.  Especially when you have to prove to them that you can eat the same killer hot wings that you had told them ‘weren’t really that bad’.

walking out of the marina

Jessica, Simone, Dan, Bobby & Matt

cheers to hot wings!

tasting a muy caliente wing

Simone playing pool

Jessica & Simone

9.22.12 (3)

Throwback Thursday: The Roughest Passage You’ll Ever Make

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 Serendipity to sell and 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.

This week’s installment brings about our very first buddy boats of our trip.  The night before this original post we had just met Scott and Kim of s/v Anthyllide, and Brian and Stephanie of s/v Rode Trip.  Not only are we still good friends with all of these cruisers, but we buddy boated with Brian and Stephanie from this very first day all the way down to the Bahamas, Jamaica, Cuba, and Cayman before finally parting ways.


Saturday September 22, 2012

Today we took the Cape May Channel to Delaware Bay and up the whole length to the C&D Canal, which connects Delaware Bay to Chesapeake Bay. Yesterday morning Matt threw the Waterway Guide in my lap and told me to read up a little on the area. This was the first sentence of the chapter, “The waters of Delaware Bay are considered by many boaters to be rough, tedious and inhospitable…..notorious for building up short, choppy seas quickly…..the skills of the navigator are likely to be tested here”. After reading that calming description of the area I started searching for every little inlet possible for anchorage along the way should we need to pull off.

Just as scared as us to make the trip were our new friends Brian and Stephanie on Rode Trip as we decided to buddy boat together. Before we could get out on the water though we all got up bright and early to make our way to the yard sale at Utch’s marina, something all of us had seen advertiesed the previous day. No one had any kind of idea what would actually be sold there but it sounded interesting enough to make the trip to shore.

Tying up under the docks at the marina once again we walked out to see tables set up everywhere with everything you could think of. There were boat parts, fishing gear, and even a little pink acoustic guitar. It must be a pretty popular even every year because even a local radio station was there covering it. We didn’t have a ton of time to browse since we still wanted to up anchor by 9:30, but we all seemed to find something we wanted or needed. Matt and I picked up a couple of fishing lures, a gaff hook, and a flotation cushion since the storm in NYC had ripped our Lifesling right off the back of our boat. We didn’t even notice it was gone until we were on our way to Sandy Hook. Spending $125 to replace it didn’t sound too tempting at the moment, but a $3 cushion would at least keep us Coast Guard legal. Brian and Stephanie also did well at the sale, picking up lots of fishing supplies themselves and even an only used once 5 hp outboard for their dinghy.

Dropping them back off at their boat we pulled up the anchor and got ready for what we thought would be the roughest passage we’d ever make. Getting out of the Cape May Channel and into Delaware Bay it was a sunny morning, winds were around 15 knots, and waves were 1-2 feet. It didn’t look bad, but I was waiting for something to come up on us any second. We both raised our mainsails while in the channel and once we were in the open bay Matt and I set a course for a straight shot up the bay while Rode Trip was quickly disappearing off to our port side. So much for buddy boats.

While cruising by ourselves now we were tuned into channel 16 on the VHF when we heard our name called although I couldn’t make out the name of who was hailing us. Answering anyway I found out it was Scott that we had met the previous night and he was just calling to see how our trip was going so far and where we were staying for the night. He mentioned how they were planning on going all the way up the bay and through the canal to end at a river just on the other side. Our buddy boat plans for the night had consisted of anchoring at Reedy Island just before the canal, but after listening to Scott it sounded like winds would be shifting to where the island would no longer have a good holding for us overnight. Then finding out the C&D was only 12 miles long we told Scott that him and Kim could probably expect to see us next to them that night.

Going back to our awesome cruising (more on that in a minute) we heard Scott hailing Rode Trip, probably to relay the same message. There seemed to be some problems in communication though where Rode Trip could hear Scott but he could not hear them. Since we could hear both parties just fine I thought I’d hail Rode Trip (who was still barely in our sight) and just relay the message myself. Only problem was not only could I not remember his boat’s name but I couldn’t make it out each time he had repeated it on the radio. Matt cocked his head to the side and offered “I think it’s Angel Eyes” although both of us still didn’t think that sounded 100% right. So while talking to Rode Trip I’d say “I was just talking to Angeleyes” and smash it together really quick so no one would be able to tell I was saying it wrong, especially if Kim and Scott were still listening, “and they said they were going all the way through the canal tonight, so we were thinking of following Angeleyes, what do you think?”. They agreed as well and didn’t correct my mispronunciation.  Later we found out it was Anthyllide.  Ooops!

Back to our awesome cruising. I know a lot of it has to do with the current and we’re not rock stars like this on our own, but we were once again sailing at 6.5 knots with only 10-15 knots of wind. The ride was smooth and easy. I was able to move around below and even give Matt a haircut in the cockpit (bad idea, could not contain the hair, it was everywhere). When we were 2/3rds of the way through the bay we began messing with the sheets and the course a little. The speed went up to 7, then 7.5, and then 8. For a good 45 minutes we were steadily cruising at 8.4 knots. With only 14 knots of wind off our back quarter. This was seriously the best day of sailing we’ve ever had. I felt like flipping the finger to my guide book and then dancing a little jig on it just to show it how wrong it was.

To be fair though we have heard these waters can get very rough, but they’re usually only that way when making a southerly passage. One of the reasons I was also so happy with our new speed was that we were finally catching back up to Rode Trip. We found out on the VHF conversation that they had caught a good current and followed it into the marked channel in the center of the bay, going out and then cutting back in. We were going in a straight line and somehow they were beating us. In a 32 ft West Sail. It logistically shouldn’t be possible. So as we were getting closer to the end an they had to cut back in I would try to calculate the distance between us to see if we’d come out on top. We did not. Our buddy boat beat us to the C&D, but not by much.

Putting down our sails and throwing on the engines we continued to ride nice currents through the canal as the sun was setting. Off in the distance I could see dark stormy clouds and had heard on a weather report there would be a chance of rain that night. If there would be a storm or high winds we didn’t want to be in an exposed area and radioed Rode Trip about a little cove we found just passed the river that Anthyllide was planning to anchor in. They declined and said they still planned on going to the river.

Getting out of the C&D it was now dark and we still followed behind Rode Trip, following the red and green buoys in the river to our chosen area on the chart plotter. With winds having picked up to 25 knots now they also realized the river may not be a good place to stay and radioed to say they’d be tucking into a cove just before the one we were planning on. Less than two miles before either of us could get to our destination the rain came, and it came in force. It went from not a single drop to pounding down, sting you in the eyes kind of rain within seconds. Even though it was dark you could see it coming across the water like a curtain.

I didn’t mind traveling in it since the motor was on and with the river mostly keeping a straight course the rest of the way it was possible to keep the autopilot on and take shelter under the dodger. The only thing that did worry me was anchoring in this mess. It was hard enough for us to anchor in the dark and try to read Matt’s and signals from the bow, but this was blinding and deafening. And then I remembered the only thing good about these kinds of punishing storms is they’re usually gone as quick as they come. Just as we were pulling into our cove the rain had stopped and we set down the anchor with ease. Maybe I had spoken about this being our best day of sailing a little too quickly. Although if we want to get into technicalities, the sails were down when the storm came. Still the best day of sailing ever.

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Found our buddy boat across the bay!

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Our back end looks like it has a little too much weight on it, and not just because Matt’s been eating half my meals.

(Photo courtesy of Rode Trip)

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Storms coming over the C&D Canal.

Old Bahama Bay Marina & Resort

Snap Back to Reality

Monday April 13, 2015

Old Bahama Bay Marina & Resort

Well, we’re back in Indiantown and back to the reality that we need to jump right into boat work in order to get ourselves moving along to see any hope of cruising again by the new year.

On how we got back here from the Bahamas though….  All four of us were up at the crack of dawn on Sunday to give ourselves as much time and as much daylight as possible for the 55 mile journey back to West Palm Beach and our familiar anchorage in Lake Worth.  We thought we might be the first ones out of the marina besides the fisherman that get out while the skies are still dark and a little hazy, but we found ourselves patiently waiting for three other sailboats to back themselves out and clear the channel before we could take our turn.

Out on the water we immediately raised our sails and finally caught those east trade winds at an angle that suited us perfectly.  Pointing on a southwest course to counteract the Gulf Stream, we were on a comfortable broad reach and serenely sailing along at 6.5 knots.  The day was sunny and perfect, and much of my time was spent behind the wheel.  The least I could do to earn my position on board, and honestly it felt kind of nice.  I might have to remind myself of that every now and then on our own boat when we’re always so quick to throw on the autopilot as soon as we exit a harbor.

Every few hours we’d check our position on the tablet to see how far was left and if we were staying on course.  It turned out that in my few hours behind the wheel I had actually been pointing us a little further south than we needed to be and we were actually coming in closer to Fort Lauderdale than West Palm Beach.  A few more alterations and we were heading in the right direction, although I may had inadvertently cost us an extra hour on the water.  Not normally a big deal, but it can be when you’re trying to beat the sunset. I guess we must have been fighting a much stronger current on the way over than coming back and our course was much closer to our heading this time around.

Realizing that we’d now be hitting the inlet around 9 pm wasn’t the worst thing in the world as we’d exited it in the dark and it would just mean a very sharp lookout for channel markers once more.  Knowing that we’d at least be at anchor that night though was a big relief.

Getting within about a half mile of the beginning of the channel we threw on  the now repaired engine and put the sails away.  Everything was looking good until we were only a quarter mile away and the engine shut down.  Not knowing what the issue was, Matt and Bob ran down below deck to diagnose it.  Joni and I stayed up on deck and since we still had a good bit of forward momentum, I kept us pointing at the channel in case the problem was fixed right away and we could continue our way in.  Looks like our slightly southern approach was paying off.

Another 20 minutes later though I was now upon the first buoy for the channel and there was still not a peep from the engine.  The guys still weren’t sure what the issue was but were going to bleed the fuel lines in case they had air in them.  It was the only thing that made sense to them.  This project was going to take at least another 20 minutes though and I didn’t have time to continue drifting NW before coming too close to shore and other unknowns.  Cranking the wheel another 40 degrees I turned us dead north and rode the Gulf Stream until the situation below was taken care of.

Under bare poles and through the current alone, Shamroga pushed forward at an amazing 3.5 knots.  When I did hear the roar of the engine again 20-25 minutes later we had already covered over a mile just by drifting and then had to fight the current south to get back to where we originally had been, traveling at 2 knots with the engine under almost full power.  Eventually we made it back to the original buoy and were able to point ourselves west and resume a normal pace.

Thanks to our powerful Ryobi flashlight and four sets of eyes on watch we navigated the ICW once more and finally dropped anchor just after 11 pm.  Too tired to worry about anything else or things that need to be put away, we cleaned up the essentials and pleasantly passed out in our cabins.  This morning Shamroga went into a marina in the North Palm area to look into it’s engine issues a litter further before continuing to motor up the ICW, and Matt and I were put in a taxi headed for Indiantown.

All in all it was a great learning experience on all ends.  I think Bob and Joni learned heaps about their new boat as well as a few techniques, and Matt and I learned what it was like to work on another boat and decided to tuck that knowledge away for any future events in which we might be called on for our services again.  Anyone looking for shakedown cruises with a couple of instructors this fall…just let us know.  If we can get away from boat work we might take you up on it.  Or it might be a good excuse to get away from boat work too.

And now here we find ourselves again, back in reality.  Too tired to get any work in today on cleaning Serendipity to get her in sell ready condition, but honestly, we didn’t quite leave her in the best living condition either.  Our last night here with the Sailing Conductors as well as an early morning the next day meant a few dishes in the sink and items strewn around the cabin as we hurried to pack.

We did meet a few new cruisers in the work yard though.  Funnily enough, the two new boats next to us happen to contain blog followers!  Dan, Simone, and Bobby are a group of three young Aussies that just finished up time working in Canada and decided that before they head back to Oz they needed a little adventure.  Originally planning to take a van on a road trip across the US they ditched that plan in favor of buying an inexpensive Irwin 32 to travel the Bahamas with for a few months instead.  The other boat is a Moody that was purchased by Scott and Ellen of The Cynical Sailor and his Salty Sidekick.  Ellen and I had actually been online chatting on and off for the past two years so the odds of them ending up two boats down from us was pretty crazy!

So that’s where we’re at now.  My parents are coming to visit in two weeks and we hope to have a lot of Serendipity’s last major projects ticked off by then.  Things like painting the bottom and sanding and varnishing the sole.  I know there’s also a million minor things that one of these days I really need to write down so I can begin slowly ticking them off instead of laying around in the heat mumbling “I don’t even know what I can work on today”.  Progress needs to start NOW.  Ok, maybe tomorrow.

Old Bahama Bay Resort & Marina, West End

Old Bahama Bay Resort & Marina

Old Bahama Bay Resort & Marina, Grand Bahama Island

Junior Regatta

West End’s Junior Regatta

Saturday April 11, 2015

West End Junior Regatta

Looks like we’re stuck in the Bahamas one more day than anticipated because we can’t get the welded part back until this afternoon.  Oh darn, whatever will we do with our time here in paradise?

Ha, like that would ever be an issue here.  But even if we somehow couldn’t fill our day with lounging by the pool or snorkeling & paddle boarding at the beach or even lazily swinging in the hammocks strung between palm trees, there happened to be a local event going on this afternoon. A few local organizations were hosting a regatta for the regional children.  After having been to the Family Regatta in George Town Exumas last year, we knew we needed to go.

Getting into the resort’s office early in the day, we took out 4 bikes and set them aside for the ride into town later that afternoon. Our morning of course was spent basking in the glow of our beautiful surroundings and sipping coffee while munching on a blend of potatoes cooked to perfection in a cast iron skillet (after French Toast yesterday…yum!). Have I mentioned we’ve been very well fed on this job?  I really need to take some of these recipes back with me.  And clean off the two years of rust from my own cast iron skillet.

When it was time for the regatta to begin and we had built our appetites back up, the four of us cycled up the same road we had taken in to town yesterday only this time instead of two sets of tandem bikes we were each striding our own up the road.  Pulling up to the blocked off section of road we all wove through the barriers and parked our bikes behind a set of bleachers, parched and ready for a cool Bahamian beer. First there was the matter of food though and we stepped up to the folding tables that were just being set up for the day to see what was on the menu.

Between different options of BBQ; chicken; and fish, I had been looking at the barracuda with some interest until Matt shook his head no, it may not be safe for me to eat. Humph. Even though the BBQ and chicken were looking like delicious alternatives there was no way I could get myself all the way to the Bahamas and not enjoy one fish meal so I opted for the fried snapper that came with rice and coleslaw.  Bob and Joni had the same idea as me and as our meals were being prepared, Bob scuttled off to the liquor store up the street to grab us a few cold Kalik’s to enjoy with our meals.

The food was so good, and the friendly women working the stand even gave us each two fish because ‘dey’re a liddle on da small side’.  I’m sorry St. Martin, I know you’re supposed to be the ‘Friendly Island’ but the Bahamas should really swipe that title from you.

Just as the four of us were scooping the last bites of food into our mouths and draining the final drops of our beer, we realized that the regatta was already in motion.  There had been no horns or warnings and apparently we’d missed the first two legs thinking that all the kids were only out practicing.  Guess this is a little different than both adult regattas and the Wednesday night races I used to participate in.  Once we knew to pay attention to the action though we caught the last few minutes of the races before they finished.  Enjoying one more beer, we were all becoming tuckered out from the heat pretty quickly and made the decision to head back to the marina for more pool lounging before returning again in a few hours to see the high school marching band.

lunch at the regatta

Bahamian fried fish

Bob enjoying a Kalik

Jr Regatta, West End Grand Bahama Island

Joni walking the beach

pile of conch shells

Matt bicycling in West End

As we got ourselves back to the regatta in the late afternoon we could already hear the music from the band starting up.  Originally worried that we had missed the whole thing, it turned out they were just warming up and we were still in time for the show.  In fact, we still had a good 30 minutes to spare.

Grabbing an ice cold Coke and putting a few orders in for conch fritters, we took our spots on the bench and watched the children play in the water until the band actually began it’s march.  This was a little shorter than the police marching band we were treated to in George Town but it was still fun to watch the kids parade down the asphalt with their instruments.

There were still two more races for the evening which we enjoyed with more fritters, but by the time it came around to wait for the awards ceremony we agreed that we’d all had a pretty long day and would rather enjoy a nice leftover dinner at the boat instead of frequenting the food stands here again and waiting for the ear deafening music to begin thumping out of the speakers.  Tomorrow is going to be another long day after all.

Time for us to head back to the US, our vacation job is coming to an end and we still have those two boats back in Indiantown needing our attention.  Well, it’s been great while it lasted Bahamas, I hope we’re back in this exact spot around the new year on the new boat, celebrating with friends.

West End Bahamas marching band

High School marching band in West End

Jr. Regatta 1

Junior Regatta

Matt casting shadows

Old Bahama Bay

Video: Snorkeling in West End

Friday April 10, 2015

Old Bahama Bay
Holy crap.  This place is spectacular.  I’m serious, if you ever find yourself in West End make sure you come to Old Bahama Bay Marina.  The grounds are gorgeous and the amenities are more than any cruiser could hope for.  Normally we’re just happy for a shower, a wifi connection, and maybe a laundry facility if we’re lucky. This place has hall that and so much more.  A pool surrounded by palm trees; land games like basketball, corn hole, and shuffleboard; free bicycles for touring town; and so many water sports.

Completely free with your stay you get the use of kayaks, paddle boards, and even a hobie cat! (Although the rudder was broken when we were there)  Three of us did take advantage of the paddle boards our first day there as well as used the bicycles to run into town to find a welder for the broken alternator bracket, but today was all about satisfying Bob’s craving for snorkeling.  As soon as he found out their boat would be headed to the Bahamas he went out and purchased all the gear and it was the one thing on his checklist during our stay.

Talking to the friendly staff we found out the best area for snorkeling on the grounds was currently off limit due to rip currents but if we walked down the beach a bit there was a small jetty of rocks that we should still be able to find some fish in.  True to their word, we did find all kinds of little fish in this area and I was even able to follow a sting ray for just a moment.  And to think that Matt and I were worried that we wouldn’t be able to pull our gear out for a whole 9-12 months when we left the Virgin Islands….

I also had the luck of trying out a GoPro for the first time during this little snorkeling adventure.  It wasn’t until we were back at the boat that I was able to look back at the footage and I’ll admit that I may not have always been shooting where I thought I was (for the most part I was wearing it on my head), but it was still fun and I was even able to put together a little video from the footage! I may have been a little slapdash putting it together since I wanted to get it up right away, but I hope you enjoy it.  🙂

Other than that, we’ve all been enjoying our time here immensely! The days are beautiful, the company is great, and Joni is an amazing cook that keeps us well fed morning, noon, and night.  This ‘job’ could not have come at a better time and I know we’ll be incredibly sad when it’s time for us to head home. Shamroga stern Shamroga side church West End Bahamas

mosaic window in church

Old Bahama Bay Marina

Old Bahama Bay Marina and Resort

Old Bahama Bay Marina

Bahamas Baby!

Thursday April 9, 2015

Old Bahama Bay Marina

The rigging is finished, the sails are on, the boat is fully stocked, and the weather is as much in our favor as we’re going to get it in the next week.  We are ready for the Bahamas.

Joining back up with Joni and Bob, Matt and I drove ourselves out to Sunset Marina where Shamroga was sitting on a mooring ball and all ready for the five of us to leave.  The fifth member of this party being Georgie, whom as soon as she was placed on board, took up her favorite hiding spot of that little open area under the gunnel where winch handles and sail ties are normally stored.  I can only wait to see her get into the ones in Daze Off where there is no easy way to be able to retrieve her.

Setting off down the ICW we made our way toward Lake Worth while taking turns behind the wheel and letting Joni get comfortable on the VHF to call in bridge openings.  Lunch was prepared for us on the calm waters of the Intra Costal and Matt and I had some of the tastiest grilled cheese sandwiches we’d ever sampled.  Having the meals included on this trip was turning into a total bonus.  Not that I had cracked one open while underway, but I did notice that Joni had stocked the boat up with a supply of Leinenkugel’s summer variety pack after I had mentioned last week that I had been dying to get my hands on a Berry Weiss at some point.  Not that either of us were expecting this to be a tough job, but it was looking like it was turning into a very nice all inclusive vacation for us.

Since the day had a bit of a late start, I believe we pulled into the bay in Stuart around 2 pm, we were just sneaking into Lake Worth as the sun was about to go down on us.  The guys took care of a few last minute preparations such as getting the dinghy and outboard on deck, while Joni cooked a delicious meal in the galley.  Without much to do myself, and not with the physical ability to do any heavy lifting with the guys, I cracked open one of my Leinenkugels and watched as the sun set over Shamroga, preparing myself for an early night.  With a 2:30 am alarm coming, we were going to need all the rest we could beforehand.

After dinner the four of us went about tucking everything away to make sure that nothing could bounce around or fall down, and checked the weather and tides one more time before tucking in for the night.  I’d forgotten how exhausting a day of simply motoring a boat could be, and was more than ready for bed by the time 9 pm rolled around.

Lake Worth, Florida

Georgie on Shamroga

Matt & Bob raising the outboard

sunset on Lake Worth

It turns out that having a spacious v-berth where you have the room to move about without rolling over on your partner in the process does help one to fall into a quick and deep sleep.  By the time the alarm went off I felt like I had accumulated enough REM to face the next few hours of getting out the inlet before being sent back to bed.  With Joni and I behind the wheel and Matt and Bob raising the anchor, we left Lake Worth  and followed the green and red markers of the ICW toward the Palm Beach Inlet.

With the chart plotter on board giving some issues we were using Navionics between two tablets and one really good flashlight to keep ourselves on course.  It took about an hour to get from the anchorage to the mouth of the inlet, but we were finally on our way!  Engine still on and sails down because we were pointing directly into the wind, Joni and I went below for the first sleep shift while the guys navigated out into the Gulf Stream.  Since the east winds were also pushing waves directly at us that were building up on the shallow banks surrounding the channel it was also quite a bumpy ride for the first hour.  Even though we’d stowed everything away as best we could a few items still found their way out and I even had a book or two crash down on me while sleeping. I felt bad for not getting up right away to put them back, but with it being such an issue with my rib to get from a flat position to a sitting one, I just pushed them to the side to be dealt with later.

When it was time to wake up and go on watch we found that we weren’t making as good of progress as we’d been hoping, only moving at about 3.5 knots.  With the last bits of the Florida shoreline still in sight it didn’t look like we’d be making it to West End by the early afternoon.  More calculations determined that we may not even get there before sunset.  But we did the best we could and just kept plugging along through the rest of the morning and into the afternoon.

Then in the early afternoon, a mini disaster struck.  There were issues with the engine and it had to be shut off asap.  As Matt and Bob went down to inspect the issues they could tell the alternator bracket had broke and something else was causing oil to spew out left and right.  This didn’t look like it was going to be a quick and easy fix.  When it was resolved that we couldn’t use the engine to get ourselves any further, possibly just for getting in  a channel but that’s it, we hoisted the sails to see if the Bahamas were still an option. The News Bahamas is what one can look into to know the conditions there and if it is safe to travel.

Angling ourselves on a SW heading we were able to go close hauled enough to set a course toward West End.  We still weren’t going fast by any means, about four knots once you took out the current working against us, but it was unanimous that we’d still rather make it there slowly than not at all.  It also meant either a night time arrival or slowing ourselves down to arrive at daybreak.  Checking over every single chart we had, Matt and I found an area that looked like it would be safe to anchor for a few hours, just outside the entrance to the Old Bahama Bay Marina where we’d made our reservation.

With some pretty smooth sailing for the rest of the journey and seas dying down to 1-2 ft it was quite an enjoyable ride and we all enjoyed lounging in the large cockpit until it was time for shifts again.  We ended up pulling into the anchorage around 5 am and got ourselves set with no issues.  Stating that we’d be up again in two hours to motor into the marina, that plan went out the window as we all allowed ourselves to catch up on a bit more sleep and enjoy a coffee and breakfast with the beautiful beach in front of us.  But alas, it was eventually time to get ourselves inside the marina and checked in to the country.

As Shamroga was directed in through the channel and into a slip, we found ourselves in hands down the most gorgeous marina I have ever seen.  It was idyllic.  It was picturesque.  It was everything you expect the Bahamas to be from movies and postcards and ads.  Every building was well kept for and painted a bright color, there were white sand beaches with hammocks hanging from palm trees; and the famous clear Bahamian water.  It may have been a lot of work to finally get here, but man was it worth it. A few hours later once all of us and the boat were legally inside, we raised the flag and popped the champagne.  Welcome to the Bahamas baby!!

Shamroga outside of West End

Bob opening champagne

Matt & Jessica, checked into Bahamas

Joni & Bob, checking into Bahamas

Bahamian flag & champagne


Throwback Thursday: Finding and then Occupying Wall Street

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 Serendipity to sell and 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.

This week’s installment takes us off the water and to one of mine and Matt’s favorite places in the world, Manhattan.  Honestly, until we hit Peru with our backpacks this still topped the list as one of the favorite places we’ve ever been.  When I was ready to chicken out of our Atlantic crossing last year, part of it was because I was longing to spend a summer here with the boat.

This city has a spell on us, and for mine and Matt’s first time here together we sure packed in a lot to our first day.  Which mean, another novel for you to read.  Enjoy!

You can find the original post here.


Friday September 12, 2012


We’re on Wall Street!

As I mentioned a few posts ago, we blew half our monthly budget for September by getting the mast put back up and all the things that went along with it. So you might be asking yourself How are they going to afford to stay in New York City? Marinas in the city are around $3/foot per night and even Jersey is at least $2. The only way we could afford it is because at the 79th St Boat Basin they offer transient mooring balls for $30/night. This we could squeeze into the budget.

Our plans were set to stay three nights, but upon reading a friend’s blog (Maryl @Water Music) the previous day, she mentioned how they tired to get a ball but were kicked off and ended up having to pay the exorbitant fees for a slip at the marina. We were in a panic. There was no way afford that but also didn’t want to skip the city. Worst part about reading the blog as well is she didn’t mention why they were kicked off. In a fury I was typing a comment on her post to see if she could reply to us about what the issue was. There was no response that night. (They didn’t have internet at the time)

Still departing this morning as we normally would have we got a message back about where they had their problem. It turns out there are only about 10 transient balls, all yellow, and the rest were for permanent owners. At the time they had grabbed a white one and since all the yellow balls were taken they were forced into a slip if they wanted to stay. We were praying there would be at least one yellow ball open when we got there. Armed with this new knowledge, we were only an hour from the basin when we saw a few boats begin to come up behind us in the river. What if they were going to the basin? What if they beat us and stole the only open ball? We were not going to let that happen.

Throwing all of our power behind the engine we zoomed ahead and left them in our dust. Getting close enough to the basin now to start making out some of the moorings I was sent to the bow with a boat hook and a pair of binoculars to keep an eye out for anything open. At first all I could see were white ones, and then a little further down I could start to see yellow ones here and there. All of them had boats attached and I was getting a little discouraged . Suddenly one of the boat attached to a transient ball swung to the side and revealed an open one behind it. Matt saw it at the same time I did and kept going at it with full power even though there were no boats near us anymore. Coming up behind it I swung the boat hook in the water and grabbed the lines and attached them to our bow. I was so excited that I started jumping on the deck and pumping my fists into the air. We had managed to get the only open mooring.

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Coming up on the George Washington Bridge.  Very beautiful architectural design.

Calling into the marina office we let them know we had arrived and quickly got ready so we could go in to pay them and then tour the city. As we were standing in the office to fill out paper work and check in I looked at a small map on the wall with the vicinity of the basin to areas in the city. Looking a little closer I realized that we were only a few blocks from Central Park. Let me tell you right now, I can be a little blonde sometimes and my geography can way off. In my head I was thinking that Streets and Avenues in NYC were the same thing and that 5th Ave would be prime real estate. So with that logic and being on 79th I figured we’d be waaaay out in a dodgy section of town. Not the case at all, we were sitting on the Upper West Side.

Once we got out and started walking the third street we hit was Broadway. Also sitting on the corner there (of 72nd & Broadway) was Gray’s Papaya, on the list of seriously three things I wanted to hit up while in the city, one of the others being Central Park. Since it was lunch time and we had not eaten all day I figured it was fate…except one thing. Due to an issue with our debit card we haven’t been able to take out cash since we left, and had literally $5 in our pockets. We assumed everything but street vendors would take credit but that is not the case. Sadly Grays Papaya would only happen if we found a way to get more cash.

Continuing our walk down 72nd St we went a few more blocks down and dead ended into Central Park West Ave. with a convenient entrance right into the park. We must have looked like tourist to the guys sitting on rickshaws who wanted to take us around the park and pounced on us as soon as we walked up, but may have passed for natives as a group of tourist asked us how to get to Strawberry Fields. We took a walk all the way around the pond while I searched for The Boat House which happened to be in a completely different area, and while walking narrow paths and ducking under trees it sort of had a zoo atmosphere complete with exhibits such as squirrels mating. Wanting to get out into the concrete jungle we left the park and figured we’d still have plenty of time to see it. Stepping back on to CPW we walked further south while keeping an eye out for anyone famous. No sightings in the Central Park area.

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Our mooring was directly on the opposite side of this building.

When the park and the avenue ended we were dropped out right by Broadway and figured that would be a good street to continue on. Part of it was wandering and taking in sights and the other part was a search for food. I was hungry enough that I wanted food NOW, I didn’t care if it was McDonald’s or Burger King. Matt was stuck on the idea that we needed to eat somewhere we didn’t have back at home. And it still had to take credit and still be inexpensive. The search was on.

We’d look up and down streets for anything new and abruptly the sidewalks opened and there were crowds of people in the middle of the street. We had just stumbled into Times Square. Neither of us had searched it beforehand or knew where it was, so it was a fun little bit of serendipity that we happened upon it. It was the middle of a bright sunny day, but the lights from billboards were still blazing in every direction. Standing around and taking it all in we promised we’d have to see it again at night. But right now food was still a top priority on my mind. Going just a few block further from Times Square we found a Potbelly Sandwich Shop and since neither of us has been to one we rushed in the door.

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After getting back on the street it was 3:30 in the afternoon and we still didn’t have any real plans for the day. Matt really wanted to see Wall Street and searched on his phone to see how far it was, about 4 miles. My legs were already a little tired but I couldn’t think of another time we’d be this far through midtown and resolved that we may as well keep going. When the street numbers began to fall off I assumed that meant we were getting close. Nope, gotta keep walking through Tribeca and Greenwich Village and a bunch of other places that I originally had no idea where they were located. Today was a lesson in New York geography for sure. Still not exactly sure where we were going we dead ended into a construction zone for the new Freedom Towers being constructed. I remember coming here with my parents 14 years ago when the Twin Towers were around and I’ll stare up to the top of them getting dizzy. I’m really glad something so beautiful is being raised as a memorial.

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One of the new Freedom Towers going up.

Crossing a freeway and then realizing it was taking us in the opposite direction we wanted to be in we crossed back and landed at the World Financial Center. Trying to get our bearing on the Google Map on our phone we decided to take a short cut through the building. Even though it was extremely hot out and I had just been wishing for a cold beer the smell of Starbucks wafted through the area and I could not have been craving anything more at the moment. I miss easy coffee. Passing the Starbucks by we exited the double doors and found ourselves in front of a marina. A very fancy one. It was The North Cove, the most exclusive mega yacht marina in Manhattan located in Battery City Park. Also one of the things I had wanted to see in NYC, although I originally had no idea where it was (again). Another bit of serendipity for the day.

Taking a few minutes to amble through the area we took in all the mega yachts that we’d probably be seeing again in the Caribbean, although just like now, will probably have no association with the owners or even the crew. Then walking out to the waterfront you could see the Statue of Liberty in the distance. If I could have spent the rest of the day here I would have but Matt was pointing at his watch and reminding me we needed to get a move on. We hand’t found Wall Street yet, and there was still the walk back of about 8 miles.

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North Cove Marina at Battery Park.  (No mega yachts shown, although there were a few)

On a real mission now just to get to Wall Street we became those tourist with map in our hand, matching street names and pointing in the direction we needed to go. One thing I did not want to do while in the city was stand out as a tourist, but at this point I didn’t care anymore. The sooner we found Wall Street the sooner we could start the long walk back and rest again. Leaving The North Cove we were on a street that housed the 9/11 Memorial and there were people lined up around the block. I hadn’t even thought about the fact that we were there only three days after the anniversary. Again, if we had time it’s something we really would have liked to do, but it was so late in the afternoon I doubt we could have still gotten in that day anyway.

Continuing on with our map we managed to get turned around about five more times but eventually made it to Wall Street. Speaking of anniversaries, we were there almost exactly one year after the Occupy Wall Street movement. We wandered around for a little bit and took note of the sights, and also how 90% of the men leaving the buildings seemed to owned a nice suit that fit them right. Come on guys, you’re supposed to be the creme de la creme!! Next thing to do on the list was find the Charging Bull. We knew it had to be in the area but still managed to get turned down about three wrong streets before finding our way according to Google Maps. But even when they said we were right on top of it we couldn’t see anything. Just as we were about to get really frustrated with the map a truck pulled out of the way and presented the bull right behind it. As things always are in movies, we thought it would be a lot bigger but were still excited to see it. There was a large area fenced off around it which allowed people to line up and then stand in front of the bull to have their photo taken. We didn’t want to go through that process and just took a few photos of ourselves with swarms of people behind us. Oh well, still proof we were there!

At this point we were finally allowed to move in a direction closer to the boat instead of away from it. We didn’t take the same street down as we took up, but for the life of me I can not remember which one it was (and I think it was Broadway we took almost all the way down). Luckily at this point my legs were starting to go numb and the walk back wasn’t feeling as bad. At some point we jumped on 5th Ave and went through a more trendy area than we had come down on. There were also signs on the street advertising two slices of pizza and a pop for $5 and my mouth was watering. Cash only though….. of course. A few more streets down we were waiting at a light to cross the road and I looked over and saw a booth that was in the same shape as the Flatiron building. Then I looked further over and saw the intersection was in a Y shape, which tipped me off and I looked up. Yup, we had stumbled across the Flatiron building itself, one of the things that would have been cool to see but wasn’t in my list of must haves. This was turning into the best day ever.

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Remaining on a northerly course we took a quick side trip to give a call to our bank (cash issue should be resolved in 3-5 days) and then hopped back on 5th. A few more streets up and we floundered onto yet another New York landmark, Rockefeller Center. This was a very fun stop for both of us as we are completely in love with the NBC series, 30 Rock. We wandered around the area looking as touristy as possible and even went inside 30 Rockefeller Center for a better look. I kept waiting for Tina Fey to walk through the lobby so I could be that annoying fan that jumps out and tells her how much I loved her book and her show but she never appeared.

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Really ready to start getting back we followed 5th Ave until it hit Central Park. Stopping into a restaurant really quick we grabbed a few slices of pizza and a beer before hitting the road again. We had been walking for at least six hours at this point (I’ve taken out the time we used sitting for lunch and dinner) and I just wanted to crawl on the boat and into bed. Matt had other ideas though and wanted to walk down the East side of Central Park so he could get a look at the Guggenheim. I don’t know how he talked me into it but I agreed to follow him, my feet trudging every step of the day. Before we could even get 10 blocks up I was starting to think my body would fail me and contemplated walking through the park to get back home. We hadn’t felt any sense of danger at all yet through the day, but looking into the dark shady area, neither of us wanted to chance it. I thought I had resigned myself to at least five more miles of walking when we came up to what looked like a well lit path through the park. I looked at Matt but he still shook his head no.

Getting only 10 steps further we heard loud music coming from that area and turned to see what I was. I begged Matt to let us go in, stating that the music probably had a large crowd around it and there was a very small chance we’d get mugged. He finally caved and we headed into the park. There were people scattered here and there on blankets on the ground, enjoying the weekend with their friends. It was a beautiful night out, clear and in the low 70′s now, and I could see why they’d want to be out. With the music getting louder we followed the path and could start to see what looked like an outdoor concert hall. Remembering posters we had seen all around town that day we realized that it was a Ben’s Fold Five concert. Right out in the park. Although we couldn’t see the stage we could still hear everything perfectly and took a seat on the cement next to a grassy knoll where others came out to enjoy the music. What were the odds that we would find something like this? We must have gotten there really late because after sitting through two songs (didn’t hear Brick) the concert ended and people started milling out of the area. Following their lead we made our way through the rest of the park full of crowds and feeling completely safe.

Forgetting what street we had originally come out on that morning we just went down 79th Street all the way to the Hudson to try and get back to the basin. After crossing over a loop in the street that didn’t have any sidewalk we found stairs going down and were dropped right into the middle of a very busy restaurant housed in front of the basin. Weaving our way through the patrons we made our way out of the outdoor area the only way we knew how, and that was walking through the middle of it to get to the pedestrian road lining the river. Jumping in the dinghy we made it back to the boat just after 10:00.

Wanting to celebrate the occasion of making it to the city we pulled some seats up to the bow and I cracked open our Kraken to enjoy a nite cap while taking in the city lights from the boat. We had been gone nine hours overall and walked over 20 miles. In addition to the areas listed we also saw Parsons School for Design, NYU, and so many others that I can’t even remember anymore. There were a few celebrity sightings that day, Russel Simmons for me and I think we took in so many sights in one day that we could leave in the morning and I’d be satisfied. All I can say is I love you New York City. I love you, I love you, I love you.


Jack paints the bus

Jack Attack

Monday April 6, 2015

Hannes & Jack at the patio

There’s a new crew member in Indiantown to s/v Marianne and  the Magic Bus Paula (I think that’s what they named her?).  Wednesday night before we made our first attempt at the Bahamas and now that we’ve been back at the marina a few more days, we’ve had a chance to get to know and enjoy the offbeat-ness that is Jack Mantis.  A South African graffiti artist and musician.

Ben and Hannes met Jack awhile back when they sailed into Trinidad and recorded him playing an original song of his, Radiate.  Since then Jack has had a lot of recognition with that song and it’s a top hit with his group, the Jack Mantis Band.  At the moment he’s taking a break from his band to tour with the Sailing Conductors as they hit the US and Canada in the next few weeks and will help them as they record new artist and also catches some shots of his own, including playing in Times Square, to make an official video for Radiate including Ben and Hannes.  From there he’ll be sailing with the guys all the way back to Germany where he’ll meet back up with his band this fall for a European tour.

On Wednesday, his first night in after traveling for over 48 hours from Cape Town, we only gave him about two hours rest before having him unwrap his guitar from all the transportation packaging and play a few songs for us.  This guy is beyond talented, with some of the best guitar playing I have ever seen.

Saturday however, we watched him tap into his artistic graffiti side and help the guys to a little decorating to their modes of transportation.  After having driven down to West Palm Beach on Friday to pick up a very specific brand of spray paint, he was all set to give Marianne a new facelift when we found out the yard’s regulations against it.  Slightly defeated, they turned to decorating the bus instead.  Marianne may not be able to easily move to an out of the way area where spraying is not an issue, but Paula can!

Tucking her into the deep woods of the marina, Jack went about giving the hood a set of racing flames that eventually moved all the way up the front of the boat and even the mirrors.  When I asked what he was going to do with the sides he told me that instead of painting it all now it would get completed along the journey where inspiration from their different spots hit.  They’re also toying with the idea of making one side a large mural where other artists can claim a small spot to make their own art work.  I’m not sure what it will look like when it’s 100% finished, but already I can tell that it’s going to get a lot of attention on the roads.  Awesome job Jack!

s/v Marianne

Jack painting the bus

Jack paints the bus

The Magic Bus

Tonight there was an event hosted at the marina to showcase all the guys’ talent.  Since I think the patrons here were ready for something a little different than their weekly blind taste test on boxed wine, a music night was put together instead.  In the patio area was a sign up sheet to have pizza delivered, and if the guys played their instruments for the group for a little bit they would earn themselves a couple of free pies.

This party couldn’t have come at a better time for us because Matt and I will be leaving tomorrow for our Bahamas/Sailing Instructors trip, and just a day or two after that the guys will be on the road in their magic bus for their US and Canada tour.  It would be the last chance for all of us to hang out for the next six weeks so it was only fitting that a big celebration be in order.

It was really fun to get a chance to chat with a few new people in the marina, and even though I had to keep my laughter to a minimum because it was extremely painful due to my fractured rib I still sneaked a few good ones in while enjoying the company of our good friends for the last time in a long time.  The music was fantastic as usual and I was even able to capture a bit of it to put on video for you.

I’m going to miss all three of these guys (even Jack although we just met him) like crazy while they’re gone, but at least I know that soon enough they’ll be back and we can resume our normal shenanigans. Besides, how else am I going to get free pizza unless they earn it for me?

Matt & Jack at the patio

Hannes playing the uke

Sailing Conductors & Jack Mantis