2003-2004 Going to the Bahamas with company

We were in Deltaville VA in time for Hurricane Isabel. We stripped the boat (even worse than it was) and we were trying to decide if we should run or stay when they did a mandatory evacuation of Mathews county (we can see it across the river from the boatyard). We crossed the face of the storm on Wednesday and ended up in a Walmart parking lot in Syler City NC for the storm on Thursday. We tacked the RV every 6 hours to keep the 30-45 winds on the nose of the rig and survived without any problems.

We headed back to Deltaville on Friday and arrived with no damage to RV or boat. It was almost a week of no power but we had lots to do and worked away quietly listening to the recovery efforts.

The South is an incredible place and its people are even more wonderful. Our hearts went out to the people of the area and we tried to make as little use of the emergency services as we could to allow more for others in far greater need than us. Our fridge decided to act up in the RV for the week we had no power. We guessed it was something to do with the 16 hour power wash we took in Syler City, it is working fine now.

We now have the boat ready for the water and are now back in NB winterizing and storing the RV. We intend to be back in Virginia by Wednesday and into the water Friday 17 Oct 2003.

– – –

We have arrived back in Deltaville after putting millie(the RV) to bed. Paul and Debbie Dowling our too good to be true neighbors put us up while we were working on the RV and even got us a couple of Turkey dinners for Thanksgiving. (For the US members on the list Thanksgiving in Canada is the Columbus Day weekend in the US) Paul and his son-in-law Jason Cleghorn drove us down to Bangor to pick up a rental car from the airport. Our one way rental airport to airport (Newport News VA) gave us unlimited mileage and 925 miles later we are at the boat in TWO days.

We arrived Thursday and could have launched Friday but we figured Monday would be better as we did have a couple of projects and my cold was not letting up. After a 14 hour sleep Friday night my cold is much better, with 3 days of work we were happy to be ready for our Monday launch. We could slip over to Jackson Creek and be off for Norfolk on Tuesday.

We turned on the weather radio this am(monday) and got our normal launch (and Haulout) weather forecast. Small craft advisory for Tuesday SW 20-25 knots. Switching NW 20 -25s

Thursday sounds good.

mike.


Date: October 22, 2003
Subject: Memories of Isabel

Hello Charlie (and others)

We arrived in Deltaville VA from Canada in time to strip our boat (even more than it was). The next day we were in the process of deciding if we should stay or run from Hurricane Isabel when Mathews County (the county we see across the river) did a mandatory evacuation. With our backs to the water if the storm turned North we decided to run South and West into North Carolina across the face of the storm and on the “safe” side of the storm. We stopped at a state park and were just getting settled when the park ranger came by and asked us to leave as the park was closing. They were worried about falling trees. We stopped for the night near Syler City NC in a Walmart parking lot. We were tracking the storm on our weather radio and where we were was expected to get 40 mph winds with higher gusts. “Winds from the NE 10-20 by 8am with rain bands and winds NE 30 by 10am” While Bonnie did dishes I dug out my compass and stood out in the parking lot getting my bearings.

We pointed our RV at NE and went to bed with the plan that if the storm turned toward us we would run again but if it stayed on track or turned North we would stay. It stayed and at 8 am we were watching the spiral clouds over us as Isabel neared the Outer Banks. We were sitting the RV debating if we should wait until after lunch to move the nose of the rig more into the wind when we took a blast of wind that leaned us over and held us for a few seconds. Bonnie put the stuff in the sink as I turned us into the wind. We tacked the RV in the Walmart parking lot every few hours. By dark, the storm was nearly over and we our nose had moved all the way around to the west.

Syler City had lost power many times but there was very little real damage. We were up early and started back toward Deltaville. As we got closer to the storm track there were more and more trees down, more damage. As we approached the line from the “safe” side to the “dangerous” side the destruction took a noticeable leap. Guardrails were crashed toward the road from the trees hitting the back side, power was nonexistent, traffic was very light, Interstate 85 South was blocked by rising flood waters, on our side the passing lane was just starting to go under. We were passed by 41 (yes, we counted) Georgia Power line trucks and support vehicles on the way to help in Virginia. We were nearly out of fuel when we made it to Deltaville. The road to the boatyard was blocked by a tree laying on power lines. While other vehicles could make it our RV was too high, we walked the last couple of miles to find out both Millennium Odyssey and Latitude were fine.

We have had almost a month now to work on the boat take our RV home, return to put the boat in the water, and reflect on Isabel.

We remember the incredible destruction of huge trees in the middle of a patch of smaller and undamaged trees. The leaves of the hardwoods turning brown after surviving the blow then later turning green again as new life started. The trees blossoming in front of the boat. The huge elms and cedars that were destroyed nearby while an old mirror leaned against a building was unmoved and undamaged. The boats that were sunk and raised that are now in the yard. But those aren’t the things we will remember long term. We will remember a girl named Charlie on the radio for what seemed like 20 hours a day. We were in our own little very quiet and dark world. We worked away on our boat with what seemed like minor inconveniences while the world around us was dealing with major destruction. We remember Charlie trying to find a generator for a woman on oxygen, we remembered our portable generator that we decide not to bring with us and wished we had. We remember the stories of the “Georgia Southern Baptist Southern Convention Relief and Chain Saw Team”. We remember the stories of the power coming on and off, we remember hearing about Alabama Power (pronounced “bama pow-a”) , Georgia Power and the many others. The arrival of the “Georgia Southern Baptist …”’s portable showers and that while they would not accept donations they freely gave over 3100 showers.
We will remember the many stories that remind us of the kindness, generosity, and strength of the people of the south.

But first of all we will remember the call that Charlie put out saying that if people wanted to show their appreciation to the Alabama Power workers they would rather take donations of books for children K to 12 than bottles of “adult beverages”.

Every couple has little quips that mean a lot to them but have almost no meaning and is nearly impossible to explain to anyone else. We have added one to our lexicon for those situations of unexpected kindness and generosity toward a third party, “what would you expect from a “bama” lineman”

Best wishes and thanks for the memories.

Mike and Bonnie
S/V Millennium Odyssey

Date Oct 30, 2003
Subject GDSC, Fred Feering, and NC

We took our first usual route south from Norfolk (ie The Great Dismal Swamp Canal) Our last trip through the swamp was a stark contrast to this one. The great high canopy that existed on the previous trip through the canal was gone. Isabel caused great destruction, 683 trees were removed from the canal, MANY MANY more are down. We stopped at the NC Visitor Center and joined the 11 other boats already tied up. The NCVC is a great place to meet fellow cruisers on the path south. We met Bill Houtman there and spent a lot of time with him the rest of the way south. This time we met several more people and actually someone we had met in Vero Beach in January 2001. We are continuing south and not doing a lot of visiting and playing tourist. We are anchoring out more and doing marinas less.

We stopped in Elizabeth City and Fred Feering was still there as a founding member of the Rose Buddies. Fred is 89 and one of the FEW legends of the ICW. He suffered a heart attack on Tuesday had an angoplasty on Wednesday and was back to greeting cruisers on Friday. We were happy to see him. Elizabeth City was badly damaged by Isabel and when we were off running errands we saw a number of roofs damaged, trees that had fallen and destroyed beautiful homes.
Isabel will not be soon forgotten.

We left E-city and headed for the Alligator River along with 17 boats and joined a steady stream coming out of Curtock Sound. Bonnie counted 26 sail and 13 powerboats in the channel between the Alligator River bend and the Alligator River Bridge. And the bridge was continuing to let in a stream of boats. For us none of the anchorages in Alligator River seemed particularly nice for the weather forecast or the large quantity of boats heading toward them. We left at 5:30 am and made the corner in the Alligator River near noon so we were making great time. We thought we should try for the Fairchild canal (about half way through the Alligator-Pungo Canal). It looked good the last time but had barges in it. This time no barges but trees. We went in to see if we could tie to one of the trees but it was limited in swing room and with West 20s coming we figured a better anchorage was called for. By the time we made it out of the Alligator-Pungo Canal it was POURING, pitch black, and I wasn’t comfortable trying to get into an unknown crowded anchorage after dark that was full of boats that may or may not know how to anchor. We pressed on to Upper Dowery Creek. We knew there would be few if any boats at anchor, we had been there before, and we knew it offered good holding and reasonable protection. We came in with rain hard enough to obscure the marks on radar, Bonnie on the bow with a 2,000,000 candle power light with me on the helm with radar (near useless in the 2.5 inches per hour rainfall), the depth sounder (VERY USEFUL) and my laptop computer hooked to a GPS doing the chartwork (VERY DAMN USEFUL) . We cleared passed the marina without incident for about 100 yards and tossed out the anchor (the only boat not at the marina), ate and slept; rather peacefully, at about 5:30 there were strong winds that came through but we could see the marina wasn’t moving so we weren’t either. The anchor alarm was reassuringly quiet. The predicted SW winds came from the North and rattled the halyards for another half hour or so, we went back to sleep until about 8.

A number of people from the Alligator and Pungo anchorages arrived later in the day, apparently it had been a sleepless night in the other anchorages.

After an extremely long day of 82 statue miles (life is much better at 6.5 knots rather than 5.0) from Elizabeth City to Upper Dowery Creek. We figured we needed a rest day and what better place to stay than Upper Dowery Creek Marina, the cleanest and friendliest marina on the ICW according to us and many other people in the marina that night. We lucked into “Beer Can Chicken Night” a pot luck with the Marina providing the “Beer Can Chickens”.

Do yourselves a favor and google a recipe for Beer Can Chicken, about the best chicken we have ever had.

We did get some maintenance in, tweeked the radar so that the front of the boat was forward rather than 20 degrees to port of the lubbers line, fixed a leak in the cockpit shower (actually 3 separate and equally hard to find drips), transferred the last two jerry cans to the diesel tanks and refilled all four cans, set the valves on the engine, checked the oil, water strainer, not counting showers, laundry, dishes, floors, making something for the pot luck, reassembling the bed and stowing clothes.

Did we ever mention why we dislike marinas?

Subject: Brochure Days.
Date Nov 16, 2003

We remember coming out of the Pipeline Canal on our last trip and we met up with a single hander named Ken on a small boat called FreeSpirit. We hollered back and forth as we passed him. We were both whining about the cold as we were jumping up and down wearing toques, winter gloves, multiple sweaters, jackets and sweats. Ken’s line summed it up the very best. “This was not in the brochure!”. That was last trip. This trip has been the brochure trip. WOW what weather. We have had one front that hit us with NE 20-30s (We were touring the Charleston Area attending a blue grass festival, having dinner out while our boat was sitting comfortably in Ashley Marina.

We had another blowy day, (ok small craft advisory) but we were inside except for one sound and other than getting some salt water on the deck (and us) it wasn’t that bad. We were kind of keen to but Georgia behind us at that point. We have been making good days and trying out many new anchorages and sticking with a few of the good tried and true ones.

Brickhill River was fantastic. We had the anchorage to ourselves and awoke to see a couple of the wild horses on the bank of the river. Bonnie heard them calling each other, nice to see and hear them. We discovered a nice anchorage just south of the Florida border (Fort George River) was lovely. Although anchoring east of G5 gives better wind protection than on the west side of G5 we were in a eddy and sawed back and forth on the anchor chain during periods of the highest current flow. Next time we will anchor east of G5. That set us up for an early day into an anchorage on the Tolomato River (NE of Red 42 Mile Marker 770) It is not in the new version of Skipper Bob but is in the old version. Watch the current coming in it will drive you on a shoal.

We have had nothing but light winds, very near calm for most nights which makes for very good sleeping. Most times the current isn’t even strong enough to pull us to the end of our chain These have been brochure days. Warm days (shorts and T-Shirts) with cool nights. One day of frost on the decks.

Very few people in the anchorages most days and very uneventful all except last night. Our next door neighbor wrapped his nylon rode around his keel on the tide switch and the fin keel held the rope tight enough that it was a heck of a job unwrapping it. An all chain rode makes wrapping very unlikely.

We are now just north of St Augustine where we spent a couple of weeks trying to get our transmission fixed last trip north. We will pass this trip.

A front is coming (our real first bad one) supposed to bring 2-3 days of 20-30s which is no fun on the Indian river where there is lots of fetch and about 7 ft of water. We will sit for an extra day of good weather while we wait in a nice anchorage. We need a maintenance day anyway.

Date: Nov 20, 2003
Subject: Are we lucky, good, or just chicken?

As we sit in out third spot in the Cement plant canal, on our third day, I wonder which is true. Granted we did have to move as the wind shifted from South more to West South West. Our kedge anchor wasn’t up to the task of holding us stern to the wind. When it digs in the little danforth does well but the flukes are to light to penetrate thick goo that is bottom here. Our primary requires MUCHO washing and an extra tug either by engine or by winch to get out. We wanted to wait until the front’s winds shifted to steadily north of west but we either had to reset our kedge or move as we were swinging out into the channel used by the brand new boats coming out of the SeaRay plant. (The SeaRay plant makes the BIG SeaRays 38 and 48s going by are quite sleek looking, but neither Bonnie or I seem to like them) We moved into a spot that could accommodate the West to Northwest winds but we were a little close to the steel wall when the winds went North so we picked up and moved AGAIN and settled into a nice little spot that we wanted to go into if we had been able to wait for the north of west winds. We have heard the reports from the Daytona area including the Indian River and Mosquito Lagoon and yes the winds have been right with the forecast. But while they are getting 15s-25s we have been getting 5s-10s. (We did get a good cloud burst and a few strong gusts when the front came through but other than that it has been 5-10s to near calm during the evenings.)

People are still moving, the first two nights we had the anchorage to ourselves, last night we had one boat, which left this morning, tonight we have two. We leave tomorrow as the forecast is good and we have had lots of “maintenance days”. I finished the new Tom Clancy(good but not as good as the old ones), started and finished Ken Follett’s Triple in one day(good but I had read it before), and am about half way though William Diehl’s Reign in Hell. No, not a lot of maintenance needed to get done.

The downpour cleaned the salt off the boat and really made the decks feel a lot better. The engine is fine, added a little oil, the bilge is dry, the drinking water system seems to be holding together without any serious drips. Our biggest annoyance seems to be the cable clamp on the throttle cable working loose. We needed to press a little bit to get to the St Augustine “Bridge of Lions” for its 0730 opening and the throttle was slipping at higher rpms. Since we normally run about 2700 (6.6knots) we didn’t notice that the throttle slipped at 3000 (about 7.1 knots)

We could do with a grocery store (out of bread) but we will wait until we get to Vero Beach where we plan on doing a semi major provisioning. We have barely eaten off the boat since late October and the cupboards are now getting unstuffed to the point where you can actually find stuff in them now. The choice is much broader than what’s on top! A month of eating on the boat and we have barely touched the stores on hand.

Bonnie has been keeping an inventory of stuff. We have bought a few things that we wanted to try to see if they should be on our good-stuff provision list. Tyson chicken is good but Valley Fresh is better, Tyson lean ham is good. A couple of things got on our “bad” list.

Tomorrow the weather is clear and we move, three or four days puts us in Vero Beach and our weather window is at least that long. There we wait for mail and Roger and Jackie Cox on Latitude, after that it is south until the first weather window that lines up with an inlet and we are Bahama’s bound.

Subject: Vero Beach, the dinghy, a mooring, and provisioning.
Date : 2003 Nov 27

Happy Thanksgiving to all the Americans on the list. Thanksgiving in the US is a much bigger affair than it is in Canada. It really is a big time family day. The boats are getting together to do a potluck here at the park next to the Vero Beach Municipal Marina. The brochure says 3000 cruising boats spend an average of 20000 nights a year at the Marina. The Harbourmaster says that this is the peak time for moorings. The 57 moorings they have will have 3 boats each rafted together. It is quite a sight.

The dinghy is finally in the water. We have barely used the dinghy until now. We finally figured out how to launch and recover it without filling it full of water. We hook the tow bridle/tie down rope to the two forward hand holds on the bottom of the keel (top of dinghy when on deck) Bonnie using the windlass lifts the dinghy using the spinnaker halyard until it stands on its transom then she slackens the halyard and we flip the bridal to the top side of the dinghy and then rotate the dinghy until it is now horizontal with me holding onto a line connected to the support for the motor. We then position it over the side and lower the halyard. Slick, not a big job and dry when we get in. It rows quite well too. I have been rowing back and forth to the dinghy dock. Close to the same distance as from the Douglas Harbour wharf to our mooring in the bedroom, with the current against me it feels a lot further. But I have been rowing out and back at least twice a day and the exercise is good for me. The dinghy gets a lot of comments, usually laughter at first and then up close they can see some of the features and the comments are more “Cool”.

We talked to Roger Cox on the cell the other night. They are doing a lot of outside stuff. Beaufort NC to Charleston SC, Charleston to St. Augustine FL. One of the other boats we know did St Augustine to Fort Pierce and then backtracked the 10 miles to Vero Beach.

The no-see-ums are insane here. We have the no-see-um nets up but the boat was full of them before we put the nets up and we aren’t sure if we are now keeping them in or keeping them out. Bonnie isn’t sure she likes Florida in warm weather. There was no bugs last time.

We have discovered that what we can do in one day at a marina takes us three on a mooring (Might have something to do with the rowing bit) We are making the final preps for the jump to the Bahamas. We are fully fueled, water tanks are full but as soon as we jump the to the Bahamas and clean water we will restart the watermaker. Our provisioning list is made, some of the provisions are bought, our last minute boat upgrades are on order. (A new Danforth for the kedge, a Furuno NX300 Navtex offshore weather receiver, and finally a Anchorman manual windlass.)

All of this stuff should be here shortly. WE HOPE. Roger needed a place to get a part shipped to so we had him send it to us at the marina. It has arrived. We should start getting stuff Friday or Monday. Roger may be here by then.

(Ring Ring)

That was him he just called he will be here Saturday.

Now we will be holding him up. Oh well. He needs a rest.

The food from the potluck was truly awesome. There are some amazing cooks on these boats. We took yams and the brown sugar butter. The yams were gone but the butter was left over. The sign got removed and people didn’t know what it was. Their loss.

We had a great time meeting people and renewing acquaintances. Many of these people we will see from now on all the way through the Bahamas, the US and even the Caribbean possibly. It is an interesting group of people. Most are pretty laid back.

We even met people we have seen on our last trip. Most of the people are older than us a few are the same age and even fewer are younger. There are a few single handers, a few people with young families. Most kids are early teens, some are 6-9.

There is a family of dolphins swimming by (well a larger one we assume mom about 5 feet long and a baby about 18 to 24 inches long). Back to the story.

There is one girl named Carol on a boat called Illusion add a red tinge to her hair and glasses and she is a spitting image of Carolyn Monette. I do a double take every time I see her.

We first saw them in Norfolk at the Hospital Point anchorage mile 0 of the ICW. We actually met them in Elizabeth City and have seen them in anchorages a half dozen times since then. They are heading to the Abacos so we may see them again in the Bahamas.

We first met Shenandoah in Norfolk the end of October 2000 at Waterside Marina. She was in doing the wash with Bonnie. They had sold everything and moved aboard the boat one month before, they are still together and cruising. He has gained a little weight but other than that life seems to be going ok.

Subject: A Beach Day ( well sort of )
Date: 2003 Nov 28

Bonnie wanted to go walk on the beach and I figured that Friday before Roger arrived would be a good day. We slept late and by the time I rowed in it was almost 10:30. We went in and talked to the office about Roger and made a reservation.

The buses at Vero Beach are FREE! We get picked up by a bus at the cruiser’s lounge, we get dropped off at the dinghy dock. The bus is really a two loops, the east loop takes us to the beach and the west loop takes us to shopping. We were trying to take the east loop to the beach. The same bus leaves the Marina and does the east loop and then returns about 10 -15 minutes later and does the west loop. Great the bus just arrived dropping people carrying groceries at the dinghy dock, we went down to office came back got on the bus and promptly headed westbound, opps. The buses don’t run over the lunch hour and shut down by 4:30 which means we now have 2 hours to spend before we can get a bus back to the marina.

We got word of a few things that might be worth trying at the Dollar General and Bonnie wanted to check out the Good Will store. We then went back to the Winn Dixie grocery store and with our provisioning list in hand and got all of the groceries we felt we could carry onto the bus (you aren’t allowed to put any more onto the bus than you can carry in one load.)

We get dropped off at the dinghy dock and load our stuff into the locker of the dinghy (it all fits if we take out one life jacket), and walk back to the lounge were the bus is waiting for us. Great we get on and head …. WEST. Bonnie looks at me and says “We don’t get off until the beach this time right!” We get to the beach at about 2:45. We meet one of the couples we met at Elizabeth City and we were talking to them most of the way (we almost missed getting off at the beach because we forgot to tell the west bound driver we wanted to stop at the beach). We got off and walked a long way up the beach, beyond the boardwalk, then back along the boardwalk, through town admiring the nice houses and seeing the Indian River Transit signs along the way. We did only just over an hour’s walk and were back at the bus stop where we got dropped off. We figured we had about a 10 minute wait until the bus came or we could walk back. We started back and the bus passed us about a 5 minute walk from the marina.

We figured we would try again for a beach day. Saturday there are supposed to be elephants in the Gulf Stream.

OK not real elephants. The Gulf Stream is a river of hot water that flows between Florida and the Bahamas, it flows at up to 4 knots in a mainly Northerly direction. Tomorrow, Saturday, is scheduled for winds from the North at 25-30 (Roger heard that too and has decided that he won’t be arriving in Vero Beach until Monday). When the wind blows against current you can get choppy waves blowing up quickly, in the strong northerly the locals have nicknamed the waves in the Gulf Stream “elephants” apparently they look like and endless chain of elephants the nose of one holding onto the tail of the next. Tomorrow they are scheduled to be 5-7 feet tall.

We figured we’d walk to the beach.

Subject: Provisioning
Date 2003 Nov 29

We were planning on walking over to the beach after a quick run to the Dollar General and Winn Dixie when we ran into Pam and Greg from Freedonia another ex-computer geek about our age. They were on their way to the Super Walmart with a car an asked us if we wanted to go. A car means we can get a real cart full of stuff and it would save us probably two or three bus trips. We were off to Walmart. A hundred odd dollars of non-perishable food stuffs and we are now almost fully provisioned. The greatest find was vacuum packed hamburger. Good until 2005 with no refrigeration required. Our next good find was Canadian BEER at the ABC store. Beer with flavor!

We invited Pam and Greg back to the boat for a glass of wine and had barely got the stuff stowed before they arrived. They brought a can of nuts that were awesome so we are going back to Walmart for more nuts and POOL NOODLES. We keep forgetting POOL NOODLES.

Subject: Two Things a day
Date: 2003 Nov 30

I figure I do two little things on the maintenance list a day we can keep ahead of most of the serious problems. My two today was to check the rig and tighten the stanchion post by the starboard gate. The rig was ok with one shroud that seemed a little looser than I liked but I looked at the support below and it seemed ok so I just checked that the mast was in column and ended up tweeking a couple of the shrouds. It looks better now. Ten minutes and it was done.

My other item ended up being a different task. The stanchion support has two set screws in it that hold the post in place. The set screws tend to bond rather well to the stanchion support in a salt water environment. I stripped both set screws rather permanently trying to get them loose. With the result that I now had to drill and tap in a new screw. I figured a real screw would probably be a better arrangement than the old set screw style. The screw would pass through both the support and the post and it would be impossible to remove the post without removing the screw. The set screws press on the post and do fix it in position nicely but after months of people yanking on the stanchion post getting in and out of the dinghies both ours and visitors the set screws end up being loose on the posts.

Things take longer on a mooring. Instead of plugging in the electric drill and doing a quick zip. I end up having to recharge our cordless drill for an hour before we can start the drilling process. But as long as you don’t let the little delays in life bug you it is ok. I am learning patience is a great stress reliever. I get to do a little extra reading.

We ended up running the engine to charge up our batteries for the first time a couple of days ago. About once every three to four days seems to be about right. We were down 35 amp hours according to the meter so we ran the engine until it was under 10 (about 40 minutes) and let the solar panel bring it the rest of the way up.

We have had a few cloudy days lately and with running the refrigerator for several hours a day the solar panel isn’t keeping up. We have people all around us with generators and engines running twice a day and various schemes for keeping the batteries going.

Monday should be a good day for another run to Walmart for POOL NOODLES. Roger may be here by the afternoon so we should probably do a morning run.

Subject: Waiting for stuff.

Well Roger has arrived. But as our mooring was full (three boats) he ended up on a raft nearby, which is ok. He had dinner with us his first night here. The next day I took him on a shopping expedition. My Furuno NX300 arrived but the guy at Defender forgot to mention that you needed to buy a antenna mount. So I needed a quick trip to West Marine to get a mount. Roger was keen to come along so off we went. I figured I could get the west bound bus to drop me off and pick up the eastbound and I would have about a half hour to get my stuff and be on my way back to the marina. Roger was in a mad rush to order stuff and when I looked at my watch it was too late to catch the bus. He relaxed a bit when I said there was no rush. We were now on the bus drivers lunch break. We stopped by Kelleys Pub and had a ham on rye (Great sandwich and cheap too).

We ran into the overflow driver and asked if we could get to a Home Depot as Roger needed a plumbing bit. He said we could go to Walmart and walk up but Lowes has a stop right in front. After lunch and a stop at the dive shop we were westbound. Lowes is a huge hardware store and is probably Home Depot’s major competitor in the US. Roger was off to find plumbing bits and I was off to find Denatured Alcohol used for a paint thinner and boat stove fuel. It is about $5 to $6 a gallon cheaper than at West Marine. ( about $9 vs about $15 ). Roger was still digging about in the plumbing bits when I came back and then went off again looking for a heavy nylon cutting board used in the kitchen and as a backing plates or in my case spacers for moving the antenna mount out so that I could mount the large antenna on my mizzen mast and still have it straight up and down. When I came back to fetch Roger, he was actually looking for me, he had his stuff and we were off. We were on the last bus back to the marina, so much for my half hour turnaround. Sometimes you have to be flexible, it did save us a separate trip out for the fuel and I probably would have needed to go for a backing plate anyway, this worked out well.

The next day our new Danforth showed up. We were originally going to buy a new Fortress for the stern kedge anchor but when we were looking on the web Defender had a clearance on a 31 lb Danforth anchor for $99. The Fortress would have been smaller and more expensive so we bit on the larger anchor. It is HUGE. So rather than load and unload the dinghy we loaded the new Danforth onto the stern rail and stowed the small kedge. The sticker on the anchor said $415 not bad for $99. The rest of the afternoon was spent up the mast attaching the new antenna. I was originally thinking about the top of the mizzen mast but decided that I would put it just above the radar dome where it would have protection from the radar, and the shrouds would protect it from the sail. When we ran the cable the rest of the way to the nav station it barely made it so it was lucky it landed where it did.

Last night we went to the Riverside Theatre for the live production of “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare Abridged”. It was hilarious. Othello done as rap was great, The Henrys done as a football game, and Hamlet done backwards was different. Roger seemed to enjoy it and Greg and Pam from Freedonia did to. We had a couple of others interested but they backed out at the last minute.

The next day we got a call from Roger asking if I would come over to help him installing new bearings in his roller furling. We eventually got them installed but Roger thinks we could now qualify for work in microsurgery. I got back to our boat by lunch and shortly thereafter started working on my project for the day, installing the NX300. The antenna cable determined where the main unit had to be installed so after about 10 minutes of putting the ends on the cable before we started running them (I learned a few things rewiring the boat) and then we spent another 20 minutes trying to squeeze the cable through the holes where it needed to go. We finally got to the power panel where it took about another couple of minutes actually doing the wiring, unfortunately it was interrupted by at least 45 minutes trying to find the screw we dropped during the first minute of wiring at the panel. Argh

We have now successfully received weather forecasts from Miami, San Juan, New Orleans, and we should get a few more during the night. I am very pleased, the system says it is good for nominally 400 miles but San Juan is nearly 1000 miles away. The system is protected by a 1 amp fuse so it doesn’t burn much power either.

Just the windlass to go and we are ready.

Subject: Vero Beach south to Miami

Well the windlass sort of arrived. All of the lot and serial numbers arrived but the box inside didn’t contain what it should have so nope it really didn’t arrive. We shipped it back. Jacquie arrived and after a day of provisioning and running about we found almost all of the stuff we wanted. We were off toward Miami, one window almost opened before it was slammed shut. We did our usual run Lake Worth, Lake Boca Raton, a new anchorage for us at Baker’s Haulover Inlet and then Crandon Park Municipal Marina.

The weather window is closed solid until Monday 22 Dec 2004. We might actually make Nassau by Xmas but I wouldn’t count on it. Jacquie and Roger have family arriving in Nassau on the 19th. We spent a bit of time at Crandon Park the last time. We are on a mooring this time. A little cheaper at $15 rather than $34 a night, last time moorings were $8. We have two strong cold fronts passing through in the next few days with winds in the 20-25 range so we figure a mooring is a deal.

We arrived and our first job was to register and fuel up. Once that was done we went looking for showers. They still don’t have any so the cockpit shower was great. Fresh and clean again. We need to take on water soon but once the NW part of this front passing is done we will have a smoother time and putting water on will be easier. We walked from Crandon Marina to the Winn Dixie on Key Biscayne, an nice hike, and caught the bus back. Now we have some fresh food. We will have pork tenderloin for Christmas dinner, which is a little better than a canned ham, maybe for New Year’s.

We wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. We would like to be home but it is not in the cards this year.

Bonnie and I wish everyone the very best in the year ahead and hope that it brings health, happiness, and peace to one and all.

Subject: Waiting for weather

Well Miami is filling up with boats. Every day we hear more boats arriving from the trip south. The moorings at Crandon Park are full. We are planning a trip to NoName Harbour to check it out but my guess it is FULL. The crossing has been closed for almost 3 weeks and people are chomping at the bit, so are we. I don’t think Monday is a window but Roger is wondering East 15-20s there seems to be a pile of people planning on jumping Monday.

We got a call from Mrs. Bacon. We ordered my Xmas present with 2 day delivery (Friday) but they screwed up and she was calling to own up. That was nice but it still means the package is scheduled to get here Tuesday. No idea when Tuesday but Tuesday. Tuesday is SE 10-15 something closer to a real window. Wednesday is N 5-10 Thursday NE 10-15. Not a great window. I don’t think the window is there until Tuesday, It would be nice if the package arrived early Tuesday.

We are basically ready to go with little notice.

Subject: A Catch up email

Sorry for being tardy with email. As you may have guessed a weather window opened and we jumped. Well it sort of opened. We jumped on Christmas Eve. The wind was SE 10-15 and supposed to go S 5-10 during the night. We were about 25 miles into the Gulf Stream when the wind up shifted not down shifted. We were in SE 20s when we got hit by a squall of high 40s when we lost the clew. We were trying to drop the main when it decided to leave. We proceeded under a double reefed main and were motor sailing at a reasonable pace 4.5 knots when the stiff chop finally churned the fuel and sludge in the tank into a none digestible pink cool-aid looking mixture that plugged up not one but two fuel filters. We made it onto the Bahama Banks and managed to catch up with Roger and Jacquie on the banks after the third fuel filter change in the Gulf Stream. We were about 15 miles from Russell Light when we finally called it quits and anchored for the night at dusk. We were all pretty tired and were happy to be sitting in the middle of the Bahama Banks in light near calm winds.

Roger and Jacquie wanted to get to Nassau on Xmas day and we were willing to get up at 4am so they could make it. We did and had a great sail across New Providence Channel until we neared Nassau when the NE 10-15 turned the fuel to pink cool-aid again. Our FOURTH fuel filter got us safely into Nassau and attached rather firmly to the Nassau Yacht Haven docks. Customs and Immigration were actually on the dock when we arrived and I ran over to get cleared in, we sort of did. We got all of the paperwork done and were cleared by immigration but the customs guy didn’t have any receipts left so we couldn’t clear customs. We were personally ok to travel within the Bahamas it was just that the boat couldn’t.

Our first project was to suck the tank dry of diesel while the sludge was still emulsified. So I spent the rest of Xmas day cleaning out our diesel fuel tank. Not a great Christmas day, but I was happy to have the job done and hopefully we won’t have as many diesel fuel problems again. We decided that we would celebrate Christmas on another day in the future.

Since we were used to starting our days in the middle of the night we decided to go to Junkanoo a Bahamas Xmas and New Years celebration that is very much like Mardi Gras. Incredible costumes, bands, dancing, music, and crowds. The show starts at 1 AM on Boxing day and goes until 9 am. We lasted until about 3:30 a.m. before Bonnie and I finally packed it in.

We were in the cockpit on the 26th when the Customs guy arrived to do our clearing in. We were surrounded by jerry cans full of diesel, our baja filter, and a garbage bag full of bad fuel filters, diesel soaked paper towels and his nice clean uniform wouldn’t have gone well. So he and Bonnie worked on the paperwork while I worked on cleaning the fuel. We cleaned about 15 gallons of fuel via the Baja when we finally decided to toss the last 5 or so gallons. The fuel at Nassau Yacht Haven was nice and clean with no water or no black bacteria, the first time we got clean fuel since we left Deltaville VA. We were filling via jerry cans which gave us a chance to look at the fuel before we put it into the tank. I thought we did a fairly good job of preventing the water and the worst of the bacteria form entering the tank.

We have had good luck since then as far as the fuel is concerned. The winds have been 15-20s mostly easterly since we have left Nassau on the 29th of December. We slipped into Rose Island salt pond and were able to repair the main and boom. So all and all our bad crossing of the Gulf Stream didn’t really cost much more than the 3 fuel filters. We did luck out and discovered a great shopping area for all kinds of stuff including Aubery’s on Mackie Street where we picked up 8 new fuel filters.

We left Rose Island and crossed the White and Yellow Banks to the Exuma Islands where we anchored on the west side of Norman Island. Bonnie and I celebrated Xmas at Norman Island. The next night was New Year’s and one of the 17 boats in the anchorage was a large private yacht. (Looked like a converted navy vessel). This boat started letting off fireworks at midnight and the show lasted for over a half hour. The guy probably spent more than Fredericton of fireworks. We were looking at a Batelco ( Bahamas Telephone Company, known locally as “Battle Co”) tower and decided to try our cell phone. We were quite shocked when instead of a message saying “We don’t know your phone …” Norman answered in Halifax. Now that we knew the phone worked we made a few other calls.

We walked the beach and ended up spending 3 days at Norman Island, dinghy snorkeling as Bonnie calls it, walking the beach, and diving on the boat to load it up with new zincs. The prop zinc was gone but the new zincs on the shaft were still there but in desperate need of changing. A brand new Benteau 33.1 named “To Us” came over to visit and I went over to dive on their boat to see if their zinc was ok. They weren’t sure they had one and weren’t sure what one looked like. Their’s mounts on their prop and was gone as well. They didn’t have a spare and are expecting to get one in Staniel Cay. They have been sailing for a long time but this is the first time they have ever had to do maintenance on their own.

We then sailed down to Shroud Cay and on to Hawksbill Cay. Hawksbill is an uninhabited island and has not had a permanent resident since 1900. It is an incredibly pretty island and we walked for hours on the beach and around the island. The strong east winds cause a strong surge around the islands that wrapped around the island and hit us side on causing us a rolly night. Nothing like Black Point but still rolly. EVERYBODY left the next day. We called Exuma Park and got a mooring and sailed, yes SAILED, most of the way to Exuma Park. We have traveled about 80 miles and have used about 5 gallons of fuel. Mind you some days were pretty long crossing the banks was about 40 miles but other than that our days have been pretty easy, one day was 7 miles, another was 5 miles, another 8, the shortest was 1.8 miles. Our last day was about 24 (our nav computer croaked and we swapped in one of our other machines and lost the odometer count) It was supposed to be only about 15 but if we decided to continue on one tack until we could make Alligator Cay on the next tack which took us about 6 miles out of our way but we could sail it easily and the direct route meant turning on the engine and slogging head into a 10-15 knot breeze. We had a mooring waiting for us so we didn’t feel the need to rush.

We have been sitting in Exuma park for about 4 days now and have been doing volunteer work. We will probably be sticking around for a while yet. We enjoy doing a little work. I have been building stuff. Supports for fiberglass rolls, covers for the fire stations, and my last project is a box for mounting the VHF radios (airplane and boat versions) which has a place for their printer on top, should be done in a day or two.

Roger has headed back to Nassau from Allan’s Cay to pick up some company. We will probably stay here until they show up or maybe even longer. Hard to say.

So all in all, we are doing pretty good and the boat is working well after it’s fuel problems. We are having a great time. This email is being sent from the park office so beware it may not have our standard address on it. If you have a chance google Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park and take a look it is a neat little place.

The woman working in the office was all upset she didn’t make it until New Years and Pierce Brosman (aka 007) spent Thanksgiving Day here. She was planning on being here at Thanksgiving. Oh well.

Subject: Volunteering and stuff.

Bonnie and I have been volunteering around the park. It has been a bad couple of days for wind but sitting on a mooring is nice in bad weather. We are on a hurricane rated mooring and nearly 300 degrees of land at low tide. At high we might have between 18-24 inches of water in those 300 degrees. We have almost as good wind protection so other than a small chop the worst part of the wild wind is the whistling in the rigging. Even the wind generators are far enough away that we don’t hear them unless they start air braking (30-35 knots).

We do get a bit wet in the dinghy if the wind is going against current. I am playing cabinet maker/woodworker. I finished the radio box today (well varnished it, final installation of radios and stuff is tomorrow.) After I did that they needed new buttons for holding doors closed, etc. We had a major disaster yesterday morning, the knob on the top of our coffee pot broke, so while I was making knobs for all of the other things I made one for our coffee pot, Bonnie is happy again and caffinated as well.

Subject: Preparing to leave Warderick Wells.
Date: Feb 4 2004

Well we are getting ready to head out of the Warderick Wells North Mooring Field. We have been here for just over a month. Sounds like a long time but it passed very quickly for us. It gave Bonnie and me a chance to do very non-boat related things and served as a break from a very boat centered world. I played cabinet maker/furniture builder. Grand total of 2 book cases, a radio box for two radios and a printer, three doors for fire stations, a display cases for the 16 educational brochures in the park office, a mended set of shelves in the office, four very yellow cases for holding Explorer charts and waterproof dinghy charts of the area, a set of shelving for the T-Shirts, two shelves for holding shampoo and bottled stuff in the showers of the residence, assorted fixed knobs, tools, jigs, trim pieces, a hatch holder and most important of all, coffee pots.

Bonnie got to be varnisher, sander, repainted the lettering on the park warden’s boat, helped around the office, did stock taking, and was my assistant most days. The Warden seemed to have a hard time believing that we worked together as well as we did. We have had lots of practice.

We could easily stay another long while here. We are both enjoying helping out on the island and the comradery of the volunteers. We got to meet a lot of people over the last month. Some come and go without doing volunteer stuff, others come and get screwed to the ground like us. Some get stuck long enough to be nicknamed. There’s Judy (Honey Bee) and Tom(Glory Be) who are nearly permanent volunteers who are here almost year round. Larry (Gilligan) is the volunteer coordinator and is here year round (also a volunteer), David Brown(Blue) who was here the last time we made the trip to the Bahamas and is still as crotchety as ever but he seems to like us. Martha(Nanny) and Ray(The Professor) arrived on Dec 31 and are expecting to stay until June.

We have met a number of other boaters who stay for 4 days to a week and you get to know them a little bit before they continued down the road. I got to tag along with Larry and the two Bahama’s Defense Force guys who were taking a visiting teacher back to Black Point. We stopped in Staniel Cay long enough for Larry to meet up with a plane and drop off a package. I snuck off to do some grocery shopping. Staniel is NOT cheap. For me it was like old home week. Most of the people I met in Staniel were people I had met at the park. It was nice to meet up with friends along the way.

After dropping the teacher in Black Point we went back to Staniel and picked up a palette of patio stones. The boat did surprisingly well and the park warden’s boat was actually able to plane with a ton of stone on the front. Mind you coming off plane in front of the warden’s house was the closest I’d ever come to being in an open cockpit submarine. I had never seen a bow cleat part waves like that before.

Roger and Jackie with their company showed up a couple of weeks back and were gone in a few days. I suspect they are now in Georgetown waiting for the flight to take their friends home in a couple of days.

We are heading down the road in a couple of days. The south mooring field then Cambridge Cay, Pipe Creek, Staniel Cay, Black Point, Little Farmers Cay and on to Georgetown where we will probably stay for a week or so before deciding north or south.

On the road again (Well in a couple of days)

Mike

Subject: Around we go again

We left and spent a few days traveling down to Staniel Cay, stopping at the south anchorage for a few days and managed to do all of the trails in the south end of the island. We had the anchorage to ourselves one night, it was wonderful. We were on a mooring next to the Pirate’s Lair. It is a place where they found non-native plants. It is believed that the pirate’s brought the seeds on their mats with them when they came ashore to get off the boat and use the well that is there. One of the pirates that was well known for frequenting the area and harassing shipping in the channel just north of here was Blackbeard. We were off from the south anchorage down toward Staniel Cay. We did a day trip to get to Staniel Cay and snorkeled Thunderball Grotto and went to the fund raiser for the Library and Oldest House on Staniel Cay. We met June who does the weather on channel 14 every morning she was a nice lady and she was neat to talk to.
One of the benefits of listening to June is that everybody says “Thank you” at the end and it is a way of finding out who is in the area. We found out that Roger and Jacquie were on their way back up from Georgetown and were just south of Black Point. When the weather broke we decided to meet each other at Black Point and have supper at Loraine’s Café on of the favorite local joints. When we arrived we were the only cruising boat at Black Point, by the end of the evening 14 other boats including Latitude joined us for the night. Loraine’s grouper was not bad at all.

During our stay at Staniel we decided that we would like a chance at building the boat we designed last winter and the only way we could do that is if we sold Millennium Odyssey. So we are going to go back to the Chesapeake Bay this summer and put her for sale and if we get our price (NOT A LOW ONE EITHER) we would sell her and if we don’t we will do a couple of additions and do another trip to the Bahamas next winter.

We joined up with Roger and Jacquie at Black Point and sailed up to Pipe Creek just up from Overyonder Cay where June has a brilliant blue house called (What else) Blue Yonder. From there it was up to Cambridge Cay. A great little anchorage and just a couple of miles from the Sea Aquarium and the Airplane Reef.

The Sea Aquarium was fantastic it was like swimming inside a huge fish tank at a pet store only there were more fish and they were HUGE. Even the coral was pretty cool. On the way back we noticed a mooring ball and went over to investigate. It marked airplane reef and we went back into the water to check out the reef. We were being watched carefully by a reasonable sized barracuda (about 3 feet). The mooring ball was attached to a very interesting anchor, an airplane that had nosed in and was standing on it’s nose. It’s tail remains just barely submerged.

The weather forecast was saying very bad things so we decided a mooring was a good idea. We called Exuma Park and put our names on the list again. The south was full but we got into the north mooring field. We are volunteering again! The last week has been full of slowly clocking winds in the range of 20-25s with the occasional 25s to 30s. Tonight’s gusts are higher.

The first night of the really bad weather was Wednesday. Earlier that day we listened to a couple of the park boats and boats from the surrounding islands do a search and rescue operation. A C+C 33 had washed up on shore on the south shore of Little Pipe Cay, it’s main sail up, it’s jib down, no anchor and no-one on board. Listening to the search and rescue people collecting details from cruisers who had seen the boat, it was a chilling scenario. The person had been single handing, the boat had no engine, a large anchor on the bow.

I volunteered to go out on the warden’s boat on Thursday and add another pair of eyes to the problem. We searched every Cay on the way to Staniel where we were to meet the police. Along the way we stopped to talk to a number of boats that had seen him along the way. The last time he was seen was Monday on his way to Highborne Cay.

When we arrived at Staniel Cay there were 8 cops and investigators and Royal Bahamas Defense Force guys to be ferried back to the boat, now resting at a salvager’s mooring near Pipe Creek. Larry and I ended up staying in Staniel Cay until there was room for us in the boat. I didn’t have any great desire to be bobbing around in the water beside the boat while 8 cops “Investigated” a 33 foot boat so Larry and I walked almost every road in Staniel Cay (OK 4 of the 6 roads on the island). When they returned, the Cops released the sailboat back into the custody of the Park Ranger and we went back to the sailboat. When we got there the salvager released his claim on the boat and turned over responsibility to the Park Ranger.

We got on board and Warden Ray told Tom, Larry and I to sail it back to Warderick Wells. He towed us out to the sound and we were off. He left us and headed off to take a couple more statements and then came back to trade crew. Tom came off and Warden Ray came on the sailboat. So Larry, Ray and I sailed the rest of the way back up to Warderick Wells. The C+C sailed nice but it was an eerie feeling when I was down below trying to get the instruments working, I turned around and on the wall beside me was a picture of him with his wife and kids. (Nothing but the radio did work ). He was on his way home to FL to visit his daughter. Three men sailing a dead man’s boat will never have quite the same meaning ever again.

We got his boat to the Warden’s dock (only bumping aground a few times) by the warden pulling the boat through the mooring field on a tether. Bonnie got a great laugh watching Larry and I bobbing like one of those drinking glass ducks as we tapped our way around the dock toward the Warden’s house.

Ray asked Bonnie and me if we would remove the food and personal effects from the boat so that Elanie can wash them. We normally don’t work on Sunday but we decided to do that on what would normally be a slow day anyway. We figured it shouldn’t be more than a couple of hours work, naturally it took most of the day. He wanted the personal effects off before he asks for volunteers to do a clean up. The boat needs a lot of TLC. He wants the boat clean in case his daughter wants to come and see the boat so she will have better memories of the worst of all possible events.

Roger and Jacquie are on their way home. Bonnie and I are considering going back to Florida with them if they choose the Abacos route if not we may stick around the Exumas until later and do the Abacos in April and be back in Florida by late April.

We have decided that we really would like to build our next boat and if it sells we will start a serious boat building project ASAP and if it doesn’t we will be back sailing in the Bahamas next winter. Since the summer in VA is a little TOO hot for Bonnie we will probably be coming back to NB for the summer.

TTFN

Mike

P.S. The weather has held Latitude and us here for over a week now and we are both waiting for a break in the weather. The high pressure sitting on us has been stationary for nearly a week and blowing E to SE 20 – 25. It is actually kind of aggravating because it dies down during the day to about 15-18 and by 4pm it is 20s and by 8 it is 25. Saturday is a possible window but Sunday looks better. Sigh.

Subject: Back in the US of A.
Date March 28

Sorry for the long time between updates. I dropped a short note the other day and this is a better update on what has been going on since our last “real” email.

We finally got a weather window out of the Exumas and we jumped a day after Roger and Jacquie and they spent a night in Allan’s Cay we were less than 5 miles away in Highborne Cay’s west anchorage. The next day was a lovely run to Nassau. We had lots to do and with our list Nassau Yacht Haven seemed a better idea to us rather than Nassau Harbor Club so it meant we had to do a commute to visit our friends at the club. We got a lot of stuff done but were not ready to leave when Latitude was ready so they jumped early and headed to Chub Cay. We tried to go on Thursday but didn’t make it, it was just too rough for it to be fun so we turned around and headed back to Yacht Haven. We did make it back early enough it time to go to the cruiser’s lunch at Crocodiles. We got a chance to meet Carolyn and Nick Wardelle who give the weather for BASRA from Coral Harbour every morning. As soon as we said our boat name Nick’s face lit up “It’s no disgrace to turn around”. He had been listening to us as we checked out with Nassau Harbour Control and heard us check in again when we decided to turn around. For the rest of the lunch we could hear Nick telling people that it was ok to turn around they did.

The next day was better the waves were the same height but the period was longer so it was quite comfortable. Bonnie’s rule of waves is “anytime the period of the waves in seconds is shorter than the height in feet it’s not fun.” Thursday had 6-8 foot waves in 3-4 second periods and it was no fun, Friday was 6-8 foot waves in a 10-12 second period and was quite comfortable. We tried calling Latitude on the radio a number of times but no luck. We figured they were off toward Bimini.

We were going up the Berry Islands, Little Harbour, to Panton Cove on Great Stirrup Cay. The weather forecast was changing and windows for crossing the Gulf Stream were appearing and disappearing with every update. It was bizarre at best. From Great Stirrup to Lucaya is a 60 mile run and it is best to leave at dawn and arrive early. The first day we left with another boat and it was bad (and not matching the weather forecast) so we turned around again and waited another day. The next day was E15 with seas 2 to 4 followed by North 5-10 sea 2 to 4 followed by E 5 seas less than 2 feet. My kind of window. We would get to Lucaya on a run sit a day in Lucaya preparing the boat for the passage and then go across in nearly flat water. About 30 miles from Lucaya Bonnie got the weather forecast and our window had disappeared again. It was now E15 today going SE, NW 10-15 tomorrow and NW-N 20s the day after and the rest of the forecast period was strong from the north. It didn’t take long to tell the GPS to give us a route to Lake Worth and within 5 minutes we were 102 miles (14 hours) from the Lake Worth entrance ETA midnight well within the weather window. Instead of a 3pm anchor down in Lucaya we were looking at a midnight anchor down in Lake Worth. We knew that was a very optimistic guess at our arrival time as we were traveling with the tide at the time we changed course but I figured that 2am was a better estimate.

We arrived and were sound asleep by 2:30am. The next day was scheduled for customs and immigration. Once we did the initial phone call to get a temporary clearance number the next step was to actually find a marina to go into so we could do the legwork of going to see the offices required. We called one of the marina’s that seemed to be handy and a moment later we got a call from Latitude. They had crossed from Bimini to Lake Worth and arrived about 8 hours before us. They were anchored less that a quarter mile away. We had figured they had gone across a few days earlier and we wouldn’t see them again. We ended up getting into the Rybovich-Spencer Marina with Latitude on the dock in front of us. We split the cost of cab fares to and from the Customs and Immigration Building, all of $6, and several hours later we were cleared for the day.

We had the rest of the day to figure out what we were going to do. Jacquie was trying to get home on a flight the next day and was trying to figure out what to do. It ended up that it was easier for her to do a taxi to the tri-rail and then get another taxi to the airport and leave the next morning. Roger on Latitude and Bonnie and I would go north to Vero Beach and get on a mooring. We would then leave Bonnie on Millennium Odyssey and Roger and I would return south on Latitude and go into Indiantown where Roger was pulling Latitude for the two months that he was going to be away. It was a place where he could get some work done while he was away.

He had an appointment to be pulled on Tuesday as they only pull on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. We ended up staying in Stuart on Friday night, and were in Indiantown on Saturday. The marina decided that it was busy enough to start pulling 5 days a week and asked if we wanted to be out on Monday, YES! We were back on board Millennium Odyssey by Monday night before we were scheduled to be hauled. The hardest part is getting out of Indiantown but that was solved by a very friendly gentleman who drove us to Vero Beach for gas money.

Roger left for NB on Thursday and we are now puttering away at getting the boat ready. We did our usual boat stuff, filling diesel, checking the fluids, and that sort of thing. One of the things we did that was a little different was checking our raw water impeller. It is a little pump that sucks water in from the outside pushes it through the heat exchanger to cool the engine and then pushes the heated water out the exhaust. It is a little rubber six armed mechanism that spins around pumping water. I check it every so often and just before heading up the intracoastal sounded like a good time to check it. This time one of the little arms had a small tear in one edge. Nothing serious I’ve got spares, two in fact. I got one when I bought the engine and why have one spare when you can have two, I bought another in Charleston. Both looked the same and both were wrong. The pump on my engine uses a Johnson 810 impeller not the Johnson 821 that we had. Mind you in a emergency I could have made the 821 into an 810 but not in a hurry. We now have two on order for delivery to the marina on Monday.

We have mail on the way. We have a few things I would like to do on the boat. But relaxing and reading books and doing email seem to be that is actually getting done. We did do a trip to the Botanical Gardens and they are pretty cool. We actually walked from our breakfast restaurant to the gardens and got the bus back. It was probably a couple of miles walk but it was good we needed the exercise. We have been going a few other shopping trips. A couple for fresh produce and bread. We are trying to be good and use up the stores rather than buying fresh but some things are hard to pass up. Salads, fresh fruit, and bread are always too good to pass by.

Once we get our taxes done we should be underway again.

There is a great furor among the boating crowd Bush has cut funding for the Intracoastal Waterway which means that no more dredging is being done and within a couple of years the Waterway will be too clogged with sand to be usable by sailboats. So the thousands of boats that move up and down the coast every year will have to go offshore. Sounds like another reason to have a boat with a 15 inch draft. Rumor has it there is one section near Lakewoods Folly that is down to 3 feet at MLW. We will find out the hard way if the rumors are correct.

For those of you on the list that vote in the US please express our displeasure to your local congressman. This is a very bad idea. There are thousands of boats that go up and down the intracoastal every year and they all sprinkle their cash in varying amounts as they go. Not only will it force people to go offshore and be much less safe(adding costs to Coast Guard Search and Rescue), it will remove a fair sized economic stimulus from the coastline of Georgia, NC, and SC that need the money.

Subject: People you meet

We haven’t been alone since Roger left. At Vero Beach they raft boats together. When we got back with Roger we had company a boat called Winsome from Penn. They left and within a couple of hours we had more company a boat called Rally from New Jersey..

A few days ago we had a dinghy come by saying that friends from Fredericton were looking for us and would call us on the radio tomorrow. Well the next day we got a call from “Katie Mobile”. Gerry and Ena Milburn are friends from Fredericton who normally go to the Bahamas and reside in Georgetown for the winters. They were unable to go south this year because of health considerations. They had just got back from a “Cruise Prescription” after Ena’s chemotherapy they went on one of the large cruise ship trips “2000 people and you gain a pound a day”. Ena definitely was looking good and they both seemed to have had a good time. We showed them the library where they could get their emails and told them about the best burgers in town. (They were closed, sigh).

The weather hasn’t been cooperating for travel out of the Bahamas. The boats are moving north slowly (nobody wants to get north to cold weather). Gerry was saying that people were having a hard time getting out of Georgetown the weather windows just aren’t opening. The ones that are have been short so that people are running long distances in one stretch. Rather than stopping and staging the crossing using a 2 or 3 day window they are running 24 hours in a 36 hour window. Rally was complaining that the wind was clocking so fast that the seas were badly confused. They wanted to stay at Great Sail Cay and then leave the next day but they stopped for supper and continued on before the window collapsed, as it was the 46 foot Beneteau. It was down to two knots in pounding seas and 20-25 knot westerlies coming into Fort Pierce. They were a tired crew. There must have been a reasonable window, 25 boats arrived in Vero Beach yesterday. Another boat we had met in Warderick Wells arrived today and talked about being stuck in Nassau for 12 days and doing a 36 hour run from Nassau to Great Issac Light to Fort Pierce. Guess we were lucky to get the weather window we did.

And we almost have all of our paperwork for taxes. The final bits should arrive in a couple of days.

We managed to run into Gerry and Ena a couple of more times and took them to the library, the mall and unfortunately not Casey’s (the burger joint). We must have Velro Beach provisioning-itis again as we seem to need to go to the grocery store a lot. One strange thing is that I seem to dislike potato chips now. We have been having sundowners of nuts, fruit, and tortilla chips. We just didn’t have potato chips for 4 months and after having some this week, they don’t have a lot of appeal. Bonnie and I have both lost a bit of weight. Bonnie not that much but I have gone from a 42 inch waist to a 38 in waist. I haven’t found a scale since Warderick Wells and don’t know if I have lost (or gained) any since then but the shorts that fit are now 38s. Mind you I do better on the move than when we are on a mooring.

We have been thinking about getting a sat phone and have asked my brother who is in the business to check it out. For our style of usage a sat phone may actually be cheaper than a cell phone and the coverage would tend to be better.

Subject: Time to go.

Well the weather is certainly warming up in Florida. It is getting muggy and the afternoon thunderstorms are scheduled to arrive today. There is a front moving down from Canada and cooling things off for a few days, unfortunately also pushing thunderstorms ahead of it. We will probably ride out the storms and then drop the mooring and head north following in its wake allowing us

Subject: North to Charleston SC

Hello All

Just a quick note to say Hi and say we are safely underway again. We are currently in Charleston South Carolina and are visiting with our friends, John and Shirley Sullivan. We have had great weather and except for a couple of cool nights, it has been a brochure trip. Even the cool nights are not bad as it keeps the nosee-ums down to reasonable levels. We are moving almost every day and doing 35-45 mile days. We have had the tide with us quite a bit so that helps. We stopped for an early day (15 miles) at Jekyll Island.

Jekyll Island is now owned by the State of Georgia and his home to a variety of golf courses, conference centers, marinas, beaches and even a campground. In the very early 1900s it was owned by the Jekyll Island Club for winter cottages. The members were encouraged to dine at the club house to encourage a strong social atmosphere and it is said that five sixths of the world’s wealth met at the club for dinner. We did a couple of tours of the cottages and the hit in our books was actually the Union Church. The East and West windows were signed Tiffany glass. The colors are amazing and if you get a chance go see the windows. The sun was in the west when we made it to the church just prior to it closing and the candles depicted in the window were sparkling as if they were actually on fire.

We have made it over some of the shallow spots on the ICW and there seem to be more being announced every day on the Coast Guard broadcasts (CH 22a). We have had to time the tide at Jekyll Is (3.5 feet) and at one of the cuts in SC (4.5 feet) but other than a few frantic water dances as we zig and zag looking for water we have had pretty good luck. We have picked up a couple of new anchorages and have had a pretty easy trip so far.

Charleston is our usual maintenance stop so after a 9:30 arrival we spent the rest of the day doing maintenance work on the boat and crew. We took on 27 gallons of diesel, changed the oil, checked the valves, changed the alternator belt, changed the impeller we bought here when we went south for one that fits (“You’ve got an E it’s a European engine!” mechanic says), bought a couple of new alternator belts, bought another gallon of engine oil, cleaned the cockpit after the messy stuff, had showers did a couple loads of laundry. Today is do email, do groceries, do tourist stuff, do dinner with John and Shirley. Should be a good day, we don’t usually get to do tourist stuff but yesterday was a good day.

Bonnie would like to go to the Gospel Brunch at the House of Blues at Barefoot Landing. Before anyone panics, no we haven’t “Gotten Religion”, but the music and the food is supposed to be good. That does mean that we have to do two long days. Just looking at our schedule we have 10 travel days to Elizabeth City, so we should be in the Chesapeake in a couple of weeks. Roger Cox on Latitude was supposed to launch today at Indiantown FL. So he will probably catch up with us at Elizabeth City or in the Chesapeake.

Subject: Charleston to Upper Dowry Creek

We are sitting in Upper Dowry Creek awaiting to get into the marina. We did our typical staging in but here it is closer than we normally get, less than 100 yards. So we are just a little early trying to check in before most of the boats have left.

We called just before eight and they asked if we could hang off for a while. No problem most of our work stuff can be done at the anchorage stuff like adding the remaining fuel in the jerry cans into the tank. We have been picking up fairly good fuel (less water than on the way south but still lots of little black stuff in the bottom of the jerry tanks after they sit for a few days). We had one full jerry cans and three partially full cans. Bonnie and I must look like a 5 year old playing with glasses of water. First we pour most of the full can into the tank (until we see the black stuff heading toward the syphon). Then we pour all of the bad fuel into one tank and then put all of the bad fuel into one can and then use the baja filter to clean the fuel into another can and then pour the clean fuel into the tank. While I was down in the hole I checked the primary fuel filters if we were doing another passage any time soon I would probably change the filter, there looks like there is some crud in the bottom of the sediment bowl. Hopefully I can make Virginia without mixing it up too much. After we cleaned and loaded the last of the fuel

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We are back in Elizabeth City NC for the sixth time and were happy to see Fred Feering still alive and reasonably well presiding over the wine and cheese party for cruisers. I got a chance to spend some extra time with him after the party. He parked his golf cart in front of our boat while he waited for the sun to move out of his way. He lives on Feering street “about five blocks up and I’m waitin until the sun moves out of the street, don’t wanta drive all the way with the sun in my eyes”

He is 90 as of two weeks ago and is still actively promoting and petitioning for boaters and the Great Dismal Swamp Canal. The City is building a new bulkhead and park area next to the boat slips and is not installing any pilings for slips. He has been trying to convince the city that for the cost of a dozen pilings it would bring in another six slips and more money to the town, but they don’t seem to see the value of the slips or the free advertizing they bring. “We were wrote up in five national magazines” (two I knew of are actually international rags), “and they don’t seem to think that is worth anything”. I wonder what a full page spread in Cruising World, Sail, and the other three rags would cost?

He was asking the boaters to write to their congressman to get $400,000 into the budget of the Corp of Engineer’s “Fenced for the Great Dismal Swamp Canal”. Congress had cut the budget to maintain the GDSC and without the maintenance it would be closed by next year. Elizabeth City would certainly feel the hit. It is sad to see one of the treasures of the east coast being allow to fall into disrepair. It has a long and rich history dating back to George Washington who gave land for part of it’s construction. It also supports a large and diverse wetlands ecosystem.

We have had great weather since Charleston and other than a couple of wet days it has been a brochure trip. Winds are mostly West to South 10-15 and going down to near calm at night. We have picked up a couple of new anchorages and have not had any weather delays at all.

We were in one of our favorite little anchorages just barely beyond the Dowery Creek Marina and listening to the VHF when Latitude called. Roger Cox had covered the distance from Indiantown to Upper Dowery Creek in about 9 days while we did a little less distance in about 20. Mind you we actually did Georgia and South Carolina rather than the ocean route. He was changing crew and decided to do it there rather than try to get to Elizabeth City in a day. We have done that in the past and wouldn’t suggest it to anyone! 80 miles inside is not an easy day at walking speed.

We did get a chance to spend a couple of days together (sort of) one at Dowery Creek Marina and one rafted up in the South Lake anchorage just east inside the mouth of Alligator River. We split up the next morning at the mouth of Alligator River. We headed NNW to Elizabeth City and they headed NNE to Curritock Sound. Roger has to be back at work on the 22nd and would like to have the boat in Maine.

We are aiming at being in NB by early June. So if there are any volunteers who would like to come pick us up in bangor we would love to hear from you!


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