We departed Brunswick, Georgia on November 9th, 2008, headed for Sarasota, Florida. Our only deadline, was a reservation there in the marina for December 18th, 2008. We stayed in Sarasota til Feb 26th, then cruised the Gulf Coast, as far west as Pensacola. We saw great places, spent time with family and experienced the highest winds we have ever been in...57 knots...at anchor off the shore of Tarpon Springs, Fl. Once back home, all was good until August, 2009 when we were struck by lightening.
For our adventures on land, in our Vixen RV, cliick on the Vixen page to the left for blog entries.
October 15, 2009 - after taking out, assessing, testing, ordering and reinstalling oodles of stuff... Ken announced today that our electronics/MTB were almost back to normal. Zurich Insurance has been efficient and reasonable to deal with through this process, for which we are very appreciative. Of course, there was a lightening storm this night that sure made us hold our breath!
October 14, 2009 - this day a Doctor of Metallurgy come up from Jacksonville. The rigging guy in Brunswick wasn't comfortable giving us an opinion on possible implications of the lightening on our mast/rigging. We understand that often the damage is there, but not visible on the surface. And, the only testing he can do is destructive testing. He thought using a metallurgist was a good way to go. We hoisted Dr. Paul Eason up the mast and he did a visual inspection and took pictures. He was to go back and research the type of alloy used for our mast and give us a professional opinion as to whether he thinks the mast is sound or not. Cindy isn't going anywhere without knowing that stuff is full strength!
August 2009 - Sadly, Meant To Be took a lightening direct strike in our marina (on ah dock # 13!) and we lost so much. Anything with a circuit... instruments, a/c, refrig, lights was toasted, literally. So, two weeks were spent just identifying the issues. Ken worked with a wonderful Electronics Technician, Lester Forbes.
May 30, 2009 – Saturday. We are acclimating to being on land and this week took our little RV to Tallahassee to see our two sweet nieces, Anna and Sarah Beth graduate from high school. We will be sailing out again on November 1 weather and preparations permitting. In the mean time, we will be Rving different places. So, see the website tab titled Vixen Blog and you can follow our land experiences, too. Take care everyone….its hurricane season once again, ya’ll!
May 11, 2009 Monday – departed Cumberland Island anchorage about 7 a.m., just behind Katabatik…they wave and yelled as they went by. It was another low wind day so yet again, we had to motorsail…geez, this season was not a good one relative to sailing vs. motoring. Winds just didn’t cooperate. We got to the sea buoys marking the entrance to the Brunswick channel around 11:30 a.m., with a container ship on our tail. We had dropped our sails, so once they were getting close, we just moved to our port and just motored along outside of the channel markers in deep water. The container ship finally went through and we were near the St. Simons pier. Ken, Sr. was on the pier in a easily seen red shirt….wasn’t sure he had gotten the phone message we left him saying we had arrived. But, the cell phone rang and we saw him on the pier at the same time…fun to have family to wave us in..meant a lot to us. Then, neighbors Peggy and Jane Dail boated out in their boat and followed us up to the Sidney Lanier Bridge, taking pictures of us and Miko. We took some of them, too, as we were trying to avoid a departing cargo ship in the channel. If was just wonderful to see them and also was so special that they came to greet us home. Once under the bridge, we made a call on the VHF radio and were so happy to hear Sherry’s voice, welcoming us back. We went on into our new dock (13A) slip…tight quarters, but Ken did a masterful stern in docking job. Sherry told him it was his best arrival yet and she and Cindy were both very proud of him. It is always really nice to get home….but before we know, we will be itching to go again. Neighbor Peggy came and got Ken to take him to get our truck. It didn’t start though they had put a trickle charger on it for us….sick battery. So, our wonderful neighbors gave us one of their vehicles to get Miko and kitty Annie back home. Wow, was it ever nice of everyone to make our homecoming so terribly special. Great family, great neighbors, great friends at the marina.
May 10, 2009 Sunday, Mother’s Day – departed St. Augustine this a.m. with anchor up at 7:05 a.m. and out by the beach, through the inlet with sails up by 7:30 a.m. The a.m. generator was 1939.5. Ah, no wind, no waves, no nothing this day. The wind was –00- to 9 knots so we motor sailed at various speeds the whole day. We had a handful of other sailboats that left about the same time as we did so we had quite the boat parade up the coastline, past Jacksonville to the St. Mary’s inlet. Ken watched the FSU vs. GA Tech baseball game on the TV as we traveled along. Love the “follow me tv” satellite! We made some Mother’s Day calls and heard from our neighbors that the HVAC guys fixed our unit…just a loose wire and probably under warranty….yeah. So, now we will have a cool and clean house on our arrival home, hopefully Monday. Ken, Sr. told us that our powerboat in the drive at home was full of water, the support pole broke and water has pooled in the cover. Not good as this happened last year and the boat was just a moldy mess when we took off the cover. But, we’ll deal with it. We saw a sea turtle this day with a transponder on his back. He was off Manhattan Beach, near Jacksonville. So, we will see if we can find out what turtle he was when we get home and online…there is a place you can check these things out. We also had several pods of really playful dolphins around us. We pulled into the St. Mary’s inlet and were in the anchorage at Cumberland Island by around 6:00 p.m. Ken looked over and saw “Katabatik” anchored nearby. They were our dock buddies at the marina before we left in November. Thom and Stacey are from California. They called us on the cell phone…they had friends aboard and were heading to St. Augustine. We caught up and found that we both planned to pull out in the a.m. at about 7:00 a.m. We didn’t drop the dinghy, so just waved at them. This was our last dinner aboard, so we did steaks on the grill and just enjoyed a nice evening.
May 9, 2009, Saturday, at anchor, St. Augustine, Florida. A.m. generator hours were 1938.1. We enjoyed another peaceful night due to a smooth, calm anchorage. This was more appreciated than normal, after all the bad weather and rough nights we had experienced this cruising season. Ken announced it was a pancake morning….always a favorite thing on board! Jane Dail and Peggy, our Brunswick neighbors put a trickle charger on our Hummer yesterday and checked the HVAC thermostat so the house will not be steamy when we get home. What a blessing it is to have great neighbors, we are so appreciative of these great friends. Weatherwise, we decided we needed to move Sunday to Cumberland Island, and then head into Brunswick on Monday. This a.m., neighbors called and said that HVAC was not operating correctly. They called the company that installed our unit less than a year ago. We’ll see what’s up. We went to town at 11:00 a.m., meeting Steve and Tipper (small lab) and we walked up to a store Cindy wanted to go to and then to the French bakery to buy baguettes. After that, everyone enjoyed a nice lunch on the outside patio at O.C. White’s restaurant, pet friendly. We went back to the dinghy/MTB around 3:00 p.m, and Tipper/Steve came and visited for a little while. They left, and K & C put up the dinghy, having decided to go to Cumberland Island on Sunday. Normal boring evening aboard….dinner, tv, sleep. Ah, the simple life we lead.
May 8th, 2009 Friday, at anchor, St. Augustine, Florida. A.m. generator 1936.7, port engine 1171.9 and starboard 1094.5. Well…now that was a good night of sleep….neither of us woke up once throughout the night, aaaahhhh it was heaven. Cindy’s ankle was still an issue which made her sad knowing we wouldn’t be able to do the long daily walks we always so enjoy when here. Once we got up, we watched the Today Show, ate some great sausage (thanks Karen/Kim), checked emails, and updated the website….nice to have WIFI. We called a few folks, including Sissy, who takes care of our pets/house sometimes. We asked her to go over and clean for a few hours so we didn’t have to walk into a dusty, dusty house. Ken did some boat jobs: changed fuel and oil filters; called Yanmar/First Mate about oil gauge; and spoke to Raymarine about the “fix lost” message we had been getting on our radar at the helm on occasion. Steve, on the neighbor boat, called and invited us over to his sailboat. But our dinghy wasn’t down and Ken was still doing boat jobs. Our anchorage location put us very close to shore, directly in front of the old fort and it was wonderfully scenic. We just love it here and Ken said he may want to stay longer than one day. So, we figured we’d play it by ear and see what happened. We put down the dinghy and took our showers and called Steve. We all decided to head into town around 2 p.m. We went to the downtown St. Augustine Municipal Marina. One the way in, a hardhat was floating near us so we went over and picked it up. We swung by a boat and barge where guys were working on the construction of the new Bridge of Lions. They laughed as these losses must be happening a lot. They stuck out a dip net and Ken just put the hardhat in for them to retrieve. The guys were very appreciative. The marina charges $10 to tie up your dinghy but they then allow you to dump garbage or used oil, take showers, use all their facilities. Steve and puppy Tipper arrived right behind us. After letting our dogs spend time in the dog walk area, we headed to town. Our main priority was Kilwin’s Ice Cream….not cheap but GOOOOOODDD! Ken and Cindy got Cappuccino Chocolate Chip in waffle cones…yummy. Cindy was looking for some gift items for a few people so, the guys stayed with the dogs and Cindy ducked in and out of gift and art shops. There was a Crawfish and Rapper festival going on in town. We met Veronica, who’s husband was involved with it, doing the staging. We ran into her a few times during the day and it was obvious, we all were enjoying this great little town. Tipper and Miko were instant buddies and it was amazing how well they got along. Tipper is a 4 year old lab and was very tolerant of our pesky puppy. We ducked into a little bar that had a dog friendly courtyard, enjoyed a couple wines and enjoyed live music. It was getting toward sunset, so all of us headed back to the dinghies. We let the pups play with their balls first in the dog walk area at the marina. Steve was going to take his shower at the marina, so we said goodnight and headed back to MTB for a nice dinner and quiet evening. Miko was absolutely pooped from all her playtime with Tipper. She came aboard, laid down and didn’t move. We talked to Jess and Brian a long time and that was great. After such a nice day, we decided we would stay an additional day, leaving here on Sunday for Cumberland Island.
May 7th, 2009, Thursday, prior night at sea, arrived St. Augustine with our anchor down at 6:00 p.m. this day…tired but glad to be here and so much closer to town. During the day, we heard on the radio that a sailboat crashed and went down in the Mantanzas Inlet and that another sailboat was aground. We have never had an issue in this inlet, so we radio’d Tow Boat US and asked if anything had changed. Nothing had, just folks making mistakes with their vessels we guess. There is a five foot tidal depth swing here and our first anchoring had to be aborted as we fell back into a spot that only had 4.9 feet under us. So, up anchor, move to a new spot and try again. The next spot Ken selected was much better as we had 6-9 feet under us. Though, we were closer to the neighbor sailboat than we would have liked. As a result, we didn’t put out as much rode (chain) as normal, and those two things did not put a smiley face on Cindy. But, we hoped for the best. Weather was to be settled for a few day, so that would help. Not much progress had been made on the Bridge of Lions construction project in the 6 months since our last visit, but oh well. We were pooped, planned on just reading and having a glass of wine this night. We will drop the dinghy in the a.m. and get to shore. Miko was a trouper on this overnighter. She is so funny when she needs to go out and it is windy up on the trampolines (her yard). If she isn’t 100% comfortable with her situation, she finds her place, squats, and then does a 2 in 1 maneuver in rapid fire succession. First she pee pees and then poops immediately after, all in the same spot. Once done, she prances back into the cockpit being very proud of herself. A funny, funny dog, for sure this dog of ours. She is down to very few toyz after having about 25 at the start of the trip. She is a prolific chewer so some had to be thrown away. Others, sadly, she has dropped on the side of the boat when playing and they rolled down the back steps, sploosh! We still have concerns about our oil pressure on the starboard side engine. So, when we had to motor sail today, we just ran the port engine the entire way. These two days, we traveled about 160 miles in about 32 hours. This mode of transportation is certainly not the quickest around! Cindy was checking WIFI and emails once anchored when “Steve” from “Higher Love” came over by dinghy with his sweet lab, “Tipper”. So, we had a glass of wine and snacks with them aboard. Miko couldn’t have been any happier, having such a sweet Lab come aboard to play with her. It was the first time she had a play date on the boat. Cindy gave them Milk Bones, and they were such good dogs together. Miko was so sad when Tipper had to leave with Steve just before dark, back to their Catalina 30’ sailboat. A wonderful night’s sleep for sure, this night.
May 6, 2009, Wednesday. We got up and ready to go into the fuel dock by 7:30 a.m. Ken called the marina at 7:20 a.m. and they apologized, but the dock was full. They told us they would keep us updated and call us in when a spot opened. They did just that…updated us several times letting us know that things were crazy this morning and boats that were supposed to have moved, hadn’t, etc. While we waited, Ken read the troubleshooting notes relative to the oil pressure indicator fluctuation on the starboard engine. It said if the oil was full, check the FUEL filter. It wasn’t something we would have thought of, but Ken put on a new fuel filter anyway. He said the old one didn’t look really dirty, but was soiled some. So, who knows? About 9:15 a.m. they called and said, come on in. We were ready with lines out, fenders ready and hatches for the anchoring system open. So, in record time, we were anchors up and motoring through the anchorage to the channel onto Harbortown’s fuel dock. Luckily, the little sailboat that was really close to us left at the crack of dawn and we had a clear shot out of the anchorage. Once we rounded the corner and entered the channel, we saw that there were two motor vessels at the dock with a small space in between for US. Conditions were so much better this day, less wind and slack tide, so we did not have the same concerns as the previous failed attempt. Cindy decided to keep her mouth shut about any of her worries, and not say anything, unless it was positive …”you’re doing great Ken”! Well, he did do great, went perfectly by “number one expensive boat” and pulled in behind “number two expensive boat” with ease and expertise. Cindy got the midline, then bowline, and sternline to the great guy from the marina, and life was good. We added 115 gallons of diesel aboard, about 50-60 gallons of water and emptied our garbage. Now we are good on everything …more than enough fuel and water to get us home. Yeah! Miko said hello to the dock folks and resident dock cat, Ken paid (5% discount due to being Boat US members, ra ra!) and then off we went. The oil pressure needle was still fluctuating on the starboard side, but the low pressure indicator light never illuminated. We were heading out the inlet by 10:00 a.m. and once out on the Atlantic, we had our sails up by 10:30 a.m. Of course, once again we had light winds and not in a great direction. But, we were going 4 knots and that was pretty good considering the light wind. The sea was calm with swells mostly behind pushing us, so we decided just to sail all day and overnight if possible. We figured we could make up time by motoring on Thursday, if needed. We always so enjoy going by Cape Canaveral or Kennedy, whatever, at night as the lights are spectacular. Cindy’s ankle was not doing as well as the previous two days since her injury. She was on it too much in the a.m. due to fueling, etc. But, as we sailed along, she kept it elevated and tried to keep off of it as much as possible. We guessed she may need to see a doctor about this ole thing, durn…..maybe when back to Brunswick. Miko napped some this day, she is such a content little thing, always seems so happy just to be with us. What a spoiled little cutie.
May 5th, 2009 Tuesday. As planned, we departed Lake Worth, Florida by 7:15 a.m. after a great night’s sleep. A.m. generator was . Cindy’s ankle got ice therapy twice this day, and she tried to stay off it and keep it elevated as much as possible. We motored out through Lake Worth, around the south end Peanut Island and out through the inlet. Sails were up by 7:45 a.m. but the prospects of sailing weren’t great as the wind direction and strength were not helpful to us. So, we left the main sail up and rolled in the jib. It was fun once again to be in close to shore for the better ride as seeing the inlets and homes, etc. along the way was great. While running the engines, Ken started noticing fluctuations to the oil pressure on the starboard engine. He actually had checked and filled the oil this a.m., but went down to verify the level was holding, that he put the caps back on, etc. All appeared to be fine and the pressure level indicator light never came on. Because of a good swell behind us, we were making good time (well, we did have the motors running, too!) and we actually took the mainsail down at the entrance to the Ft. Pierce inlet around 2:00 p.m …whew! So, we decided it would be great to head into the gas dock at Harbortown Marina before anchoring. We were in need of diesel fuel due to all the “stinkin” motoring we had to do on these legs north. But, our philosophy is that we move when weather allows us to move…so, there you are. Well, we called Harbortown Marina and a nice lady told us the fuel dock had boats on it but to standby on VHF channel 16 (general hailing and distress call channel) and they would call us in when things cleared. Ft. Pierce has a commercial port just inside the inlet cut and with it, a “turning basin”. Turning basins are large, always deep dredged areas used for just what their name implies….for large vessels to turn in….either coming into port or going out. Luckily, this day there was no activity going on, so we just motored a couple times around the basin. We finally decided to head up the channel(ICW) toward Harbortown Marina. When we were at a point where we either had to go in or turn around and go back to the turning basin, Ken called the marina, they told us to come on in, they had space for us. We headed in and found one huge zillion dollar yacht that we had to maneauver in front of, and a good sized motor boat that would be in front of us. We had to wedge in between the two and winds were strong behind us and the tide was ripping pushing us forward toward the motor boat. Harbortown had three guys on the dock waiting to try and pull us in, they were great. But, Cindy couldn’t get comfortable and asked Ken to pull off the attempt, yelling at the nice marina guys that we would come back in the a.m. Cindy felt AWFUL and knew she embarrassed Capt.. Ken (though he didn’t make her feel that way). But, you know, you just gotta do what feels right and that one didn’t. So, we just pulled out to the anchorage in front of the marina and dropped the hook around 3 p.m. Everyone, including Miko, laid down to relax and all fell asleep, getting much needed, stress relieving, naps. Once up we checked the tides for the next day, called the marina to see what time the fuel dock would open (7:30 a.m.) and made plans for the next few days. The fuel dock opening time was great as the winds would be calm and it would be slack high tide. We decided to fuel up early, then head out for St. Augustine, an overnight leg of about 160+ miles. So, two long days and a full night of sailing.
May 4th , 2009, Monday. At anchor, Lake Worth, Fl. A.m. generator reading was 1935.4 Luckily seemed like all the fast boaters had to work this day….anchorage was much nicer with fewer wakes. Cindy’s ankle was a mess, but ice therapy, elevation, Aleve, and a wrap were helping. She tried to stay off of it as much as possible this day, to assist healing. At least it only hurt when she turned it side to side, one way or another. She could at least stand up, and walk flat footed, without much problem. Ken did the dishes, cooked lunch and helped her in so many ways. We saw an enormous sailboat (65 - 80 feet long or so) maneuver into the marina adjacent to our anchorage…and it was truly amazing to watch. They pulled in, pivoted inside and backed up to the travel lift. The marina pulled her out of the water and motored her across their work lot. There is always something interesting to watch, wherever we are…part of the fun related to the cruising we do. We stayed aboard sadly this day due to Cindy’s bum ankle. Put up Toby, the dinghy in anticipation of leaving the next morning for Ft.Pierce, Fl, a trip of about 50 nautical miles.
May 3rd, 2009, Sunday. At anchor in Lake Worth, Fl, between Palm Beach and West Palm Beach. Ah, pancakes and sausage this a.m. thanks to Chef Ken…yummy. We dropped the dinghy in anticipation of going to shore this day. We both took hot showers (nice hot water due to motoring all day on Sat.) and relaxed. We watched a police boat pull over a sailboat in the morning, which was pretty interesting. A red channel marker buoy went floating by us so we figured the sailboat had possibly hit it as the police went to it and back to the sailboat. Looked they wrote the Captain a ticket. Funny. Miko was allowed to run loose on the boat this morning and she had a ball chasing her tail and running around like a crazy dog…”Shiba 500”. A large number of boats flying by all morning made the anchorage very rough. We found that when we were here in November, there was a Manatee no wake rule in force in the ICW/Lake Worth. It was not in force this trip, and boats were just flying by us on both sides of the Lake. We decided to travel in the dinghy up the Palm Beach side of Lake Worth, fewer fast boats. It was still rough, but a nice ride by the McMansions along the way. We went through Flagler Bascule bridge and saw that there was a festival going on in West Palm. We also noticed that the huge marina we saw on our last visit was totally GONE. We thought about going there for diesel, oh well. We continued up to the second bridge to check out the Palm Beach Town docks. There wasn’t a place for our dinghy. So, we crossed the channel/ICW to the West Palm side and found a little park area to tie up the dinghy. We all went to shore and asked a local about the festival…”Sun Festival” she said, about $10 and lots of food, art, music and fun. So, we went to an ATM, got cash and found the Festival entrance. It was $31 per person for one day and it was already about 2:00 p.m. But, we finally decided to bight the bullet and go in. Nope, Miko was not welcome, so she saved us $62 this day. We went to a deli and got salads/sandwiches to go. We found a shaded park bench and ate half of everything….huge quantities, so we decided to take the rest back to MTB. Down the embankment, stepping from rock to rock to the dinghy, Miko made a sudden move, and pulled Cindy the wrong way, causing her to fall and severely sprain/pull her ankle… the wrong way. Ouch. We all got in the dinghy and headed back to MTB for ice, elevation and a bandage wrap. The thing had swollen to egg size on the way back to MTB. This was a bummer of a situation. But, we knew we’d just deal with it and if it got worse, she’d go to the Doctor somewhere. The festival had The Steve Miller Band this evening and we hoped to hear them from MTB, no luck. And, at 9:00 p.m. there was going to be fireworks. We saw 2 fireworks loaded barges in the ICW when we went to shore. The show began right on time, just South of our location. The display was beautiful, 20 minutes of some of the coolest we have ever seen, including red heart shapes. Reading on generator this a.m. 1935.4.
May 2, 2009, Saturday. Departed South Beach, Miami at 7:15 a.m. with sails up by 7:30 a.m. Generator p.m. 1935.3, port engine 1139.7 and s/b was 1085.1. The motion of the swells against our bow caused Cindy to loose her balance while closing the anchor hatch and it dropped down, right on her right big toenail. She will probably loose the nail and it hurt! So, new rule, shoes on while anchoring! Being Saturday, there were a million boats out and this leg goes through a huge boating and shipping area. So, as we sailed, we dodged little and large vessels. There was everything from tiny sea kayaks (crazy!) to a really brightly colored container ship. The boaters inside the ICW and port around Ft. Lauderdale came screaming out after the closed (security for Navy warship #98) port was finally re-opened at 10:00 a.m. It was a boating traffic jam. So, we traded crab pots for boats! This was supposed to be a good sailing day with winds 10-15 from the East. But, NOT….6-9 knots from the south all day. So, we motor sailed once again, all day. It was a long trip/day, about 65 nautical miles to the Lake Worth inlet. We found that our speed was best closer to shore…so once again we got to enjoy the scenery along the way. OMG…the “McMansions” along Boca Raton and Palm Beach…were amazing places. We were joined by dolphins this day and saw flying fish along the way. We had an average speed of 5.9 nautical miles per hour this day. As we were about to enter the inlet to Lake Worth, an issue with our charts caused us to pull off our approach and go back around, away from the cut. Once the charts were functioning appropriately again, we headed in with the throngs of other vessels. Once we got to the ICW channel, we headed south into Lake Worth, and the traffic cleared some. We picked our spot across from Rybovich & Spencer Marina, and had the anchor down by 6:00 p.m. This was a long day and we both were tired and short tempered. But, after relaxing and a nice dinner, all was good again. We could here music on shore at West Palm. We knew we were going to stay put on Sunday, so life was good. P.M. readings: generator was 1935.3, port engine 1139.7, s/b 1085.1.
May 1, 2009, Friday, MAY DAY! We departed Key Largo/Rodriquez Key for Miami area with the anchor up about 8:15 and sails up at 8:30 a.m. We were so hopeful to finally have wind in proper direction to sail. We went out a ways and found that the sea swells were building, especially nearer Key Biscayne. We heard a guy on the VHF radio calling “rickenbackermarina, rickenbackermarina, rickenbackermarina” fast and with a really thick accent. We were amazed the marina personnel figured out it was them being called. We were finally out of the land of crab pots…..only a couple in the cove coming out this a.m. We didn’t have to dodge a single pot, yeah. We stayed close into shore, so saw beautiful beaches, homes, islands as we sailed north. During the afternoon, skies had more clouds than earlier, but ok. We decided the surf was settled enough to attempt to anchor in the Atlantic, directly off the shore of South Beach, Miami. We knew we would be rocking some figured the neon lights on the Art Deco hotels would be reward enough for a little discomfort. We were right on both counts, dealing with the swells coming in. But, we saw the NBC channel 2 catamaran go by, cruise ships and container ships coming and going and had a lot of shore entertainment. We also saw a blimp going back and forth and a bar shot off some fireworks at midnight (seen from hatch above our bed!). Pm port 1131.1, s/b 1076.7, and generator 1935.2. And, yes, we got some amazing p.m. and a.m. photos. So, the uncomfortable evening had its benefits…including a quick and easy out the next day.
April 30th, 2009, Thursday, departed Marathon, hoping to be able to tack enough all day to sail vs. motor to the Key Largo/Rodriquez Key area. Well, the seas were so strong against us, we turned around and were going to head back to Marathon. Then decided we had sunny skies and needed to make some progress…turned around and motored until 5:30 p.m. to arrive at Rodriquez Key. This day we saw a sea turtle, flying fish and fewer crab pots, a good day. We spoke to Heartbreaker, folks we met in the Bahamas last year. They are going to leave their boat in Brunswick this year, so we will catch up with them in a week or two at home. Shibumi was a boat we left Key West and Marathon with…different routes, but talked on the radio both days. We found a anchorage spot between Rodriquez Key and Dove Island off the coast of Key Largo. When we were settled in, another Catamaran arrived. Well, then the fun began. The anchorage was huge, lots of space but these guys (Ocean Madalay) pulled in directly in the front of us. So, with the wind direction directly on our nose, if they drug, they would be coming directly at us. We were sitting out front with Miko, enjoying a glass of wine when they first arrived. Well, they tried to anchor and weren’t successful in getting their anchor hooked. So, they pulled up, yelling at each other…three folks aboard. Again, they tried and seemed to be satisfied. But, as we watched, they were getting closer to us, sideways to us. Cindy tried to wave them off, with no response. Finally she yelled (“getting close”) at them and they yelled back, “Channel 12”? Ken came in and got on the VHF channel 12 with a greeting of “could you guys get any closer?”. They said they thought they may be dragging….ah, you think? “Yes, you are”, Ken responded. So, they pulled up anchor yet again and thankfully pulled well away from us to our port side. Nope, that wasn’t the end of the story, as they didn’t hang there either. So, they pulled up again and really powered up and flew by our bow. We hoped they were going to another place/anchorage, try somewhere else. But, this time, they went to the starboard side of us, but well away from MTB. This was a good place, as there were two crab pots behind them that allowed us to watch to see if they moved closer to the pots. If they did, that would mean they were moving closer to us. Well, all was good on this, their last attempt. Ken radio’d them after they settled down and just chatted. They said they were from Colorado and Ken responded, “there’s no oceans in Colorado”….She came back joking….”now you know why we aren’t too good at anchoring!”. Funny. Her folks live aboard Valhalla in Brunswick Landing Marina, names were Mike and Brenda. So, we will look them up on our return. Another Cat came in later, three of us in one spot…Tiki came out of Marathon before us, but we arrived 2 hours before them by staying close to shore and not fighting the larger waves out further.
April 29th, 2009, Wednesday, Happy Birthday Ken Miller, Sr.! Departed Key West. Though wind, seas and weather not what we would like, we decided to try to make the run up to Boot Key (Marathon) this morning. A.m. generator reading was 1935.1. A cruise ship came in overnight, Fascination by Carnival. The news reported on Tuesday that Carnival had cancelled all trips to Mexico and instead would just keep their ships at sea, vs. going to those destinations. It seemed sad for folks looking forward to seeing somewhere new and having gotten their passports in order. O’bama’s 100th day in office today, so lots of press on the Today Show, including 100 days of Michele’s fashions. We stuck our nose out, around the corner to the Atlantic Ocean to see what the seas and winds would do for us trying to go North. Well, its ok, but we knew we’d be motoring all day….to Marathon, yuck. But, we decided to continue and made it to Marathon about 4:00 p.m. and anchored off the very east end of the 7 mile bridge. We had a nice dinner and even had WIFI.
April 28th, 2009, Tuesday, anchored off Wisteria Island, Key West, Florida. MIKO”S 9 MONTH BIRTHDAY! We were on the dinghy headed to shore at 9:00 a.m. this morning. We knew Old Town would be crowded as three cruise ships arrived overnight. We went into the marina area, paid $6 to tie up the dinghy and dump our one bag of garbage. Winds were slightly better this day so the ride in wasn’t quite as wet as Monday’s. We saw “Das Boat” and “Windfall” tied up in the Marina. Windfall was the boat that came in after dark when we were anchored in the Little Shark River area. We said hello to the Captain on Das Boat. On shore, we walked, and walked, and walked. We saw Truman’s Little White House, which was a really nice surprise. It was surrounded by an idyllic neighborhood of houses and condos with beautiful vegetation and landscapes. The shaded sidewalks were a wonderful place to walk and enjoy. Once we got back to the main drag, Duval Street, we grabbed a donut at the Key West Donut Shop (our excuse was that Ken was low on sugar, ah, right!). Cindy was looking for locally made items to take as gifts to neighbors and family. But, in the shop where she found some perfect items, the lady was so unhelpful and rude, Cindy walked out. Sadly, we didn’t see anything but “Made in China” type stuff in the shops that followed. Oh well. We decided if we stayed another day, we may have to go back there and hope a new person would be working. Miko drew a crowd everywhere and we met all sorts of folks, including a pirate posing for photos, a lady with a bird, a local policeman who owned a 3 year old Shiba, and Japanese young people who were so excited to see a Shiba Inu. Near the corner of Caroline and Duval Street we found a pet friendly outdoor restaurant that had a lunch buffet with everything from boiled shrimp to wonderful little éclairs, $30 with tip. It was really good and of course, Miko was the star of the place. We ate really well and Miko got her second wind as we headed back to the dinghy dock. We ducked into the last tourist trap before the dock and bought two Key West t-shirts ($13.00), it just had to be done! On the way back to MTB, across the channel we had an amazing vantage point to watch the largest of the two remaining cruise ships pivot out from the dock, do a 180 degree turn and head in the opposite direction. This was all done between the dock with another cruise ship close by and a little island development. Sometimes we stress out just turning our little sailboat in tight quarters, they bring it to a whole new level! The cruise was supposed to be going to Cozumel…..they hoped. But, Mexico’s pandemic Swine Flu outbreak could cause a change in their itinerary we were told by some passengers on shore. We wished them well. By the time we got to MTB around 2:30 p.m., two of the three cruise ships had departed. Miko smiled the whole way back to MTB, she was a happy girl. Back on board, nap and reading time again…and Miko zonked out from her long walk and play time with every dog we saw. $49.00 spent this day.
April 27th, 2009, Monday. anchored off Wisteria Island, Key West, Florida. We dropped the dinghy early this morning, so we could get into shore before the winds and seas built during the day. Miko always gets so excited when we put her on the little boat, as she knows it takes her to see other people and hopefully see some doggy friends. We dinghied across the main channel, having to motor into the waves/wind so it was a wet ride. Then, we followed the shore in front of the main area of marinas, went by the Coast Guard docks, then took the channel at south end of Fleming Island and past the City mooring field at the east side of Fleming. The current through the channel was ripping so we took it slow. We turned into Garrison Bight, an area of marinas along Hwy. 1. One marina was just for charter boats, another had a large number of live aboard houseboats of all different shapes, sizes and colors. We noticed one houseboat that was actually an old paddle wheel boat. We docked at a dinghy dock that we found is for the city mooring field residents. When we tried to get off the dock, we found that there was a locked gate that needed a combination. A nice guy came from his dinghy and opened it for us and let us put. He told us the code, so we could get back in. We walked north up the waterfront, went to the drug store, the donut shop and bought a Cuban sandwich at a little local shop. We gave Miko water breaks all along the way. But, when we came to a Shell gas station with an overhead canopy, she laid down spread eagle. She plopped her belly on the pavement right in the middle of the parking lot in that shade. We talked about carrying her, but up she popped, rejuvenated and ready to go. We just had a short walk left to get back to the dink. Once there, we went around into another cove in Garrison Bight and filled up the dinghy gas tank at a marina there. Then, back out through the cut south of Fleming Island, and across the main channel to MTB. Since the waves/winds were behind us for the trip back, it was a much nicer ride home. We got back to MTB at about 12:30 p.m. and all of us took a nap, Miko included. After dinner, a line of squalls was all around us, but we didn’t get any rain. Winds gusted up to 28.7 this day.
April 26th, 2009, Sunday, anchored off Wisteria Island, Key West, Florida. A.m. generator was 1932.1. We were so glad not to be moving anywhere this day, yeah! We were able to get up, be lazy, drink coffee, etc. We had one last cinnamon roll from Troyers Bakery/Restaurant in Sarasota, left in the freezer. So, we slathered it up with butter, into the microwave…and it was yummy. Wind was still high and from the East this day, so it was rough in the anchorage. Winds were sustained around 20 knots, but gusted up to 28 knots during the day. Because of this, we didn’t even drop the dinghy. All the tourist boats were still out and there was plenty to watch and listen to on the radio. Cindy even got to watch HGTV today which was fun for her. We did make an error in anchoring, as we were too far out to catch any WIFI, but we did have cell phone access at least. The great thing about the high winds was that it stayed cool in the salon all day, around 79 degrees out of the sun. Another treat this day was that Ken and Cindy both got hot hot showers due to running the engines all day on Saturday. This cruising season, Ken calculated that we will have traveled approximately 2,600 miles….whew, tired!
April 25th, 2009 Saturday, departed Litle Shark River area, headed for Key West, Florida. Our a.m. generator was 1932.1, and we had to average 6.2 knots this day. We started out in 2 knot winds and flat seas, bummer. But, careful what you wish for….the winds and seas kept building all day and we took our jib sail down as we started to feel out of control We used only the mainsail and motor sailed with low RPMs on both motors for the rest of the day. We had a Dove, yes a Dove, land on the boat and ride along with us for awhile….we thought he was really lost. We saw flying fish, some type of big fish jumping and dolphins swimming along with us this day. With the large swells (5-8 feet) pushing us along, we averaged 7.1 ! and arrived in the Key West anchorage behind Wisteria Island at around 5:30 p.m. Wisteria is directly across the channel from the cruise ship dock on the mainland. Our high speed this day was 11.1 knots, whew, zoom zoom. But, still we were dodging crab pots….made more difficult with the high seas, as they would become submerged as a swell went over them. We came close to two pots…but luckily we didn’t hook any. On our arrival, all the tourist boats were out, we cranked up our music, threw on some burgers and had so much fun dancing on the back deck, watching the sunset. It was great to know that we didn’t have to get up and go on Sunday. Seemed sustained high winds and resulting choppy seas may keep us in Key West a few days. The next legs of our next journey takes us out to the Atlantic and north, headed for home. P.m. engine readings were: port 1113.0 and starboard, 1058.7. $ -0- spent this day.
April 24th, 2009, Friday, departed Marco Island, Florida. A.m. generator reading was 1927.9, port 1096.4 engine hours s/b side engine hours were 1042.5. The smoke was worse this a.m., hazy and breathing it was uncomfortable. It also was hard on the eyes. At around 10:00 a.m. a monohull named “Manatee” went by us and we each took pictures of the other’s vessel. We had Miko come outside and held her up so she could wave to them. They took pix of her and called us on the VHF to tell us we made them homesick for their puppies. They were headed to Little Shark river, as we were. Manatee, Windfall, Das Boat. They were traveling with two other boats, all of whom where ahead of us, so we anticipated the anchorage being crowded. So, Cindy started researching possible other anchorages in that area. When we asked for our morning VHF radio check, a captain in Naples Bay responded, and it was nice to know our signal strength was so good. Winds started at 10 knots, 1 foot seas, but everything was building all day. We ended with 20-25 knots sustained winds and 3-5’ seas. It was about 50 miles down the Gulf Coast, to the Little Shark River. The waves were on our side, so not awful, but not great. Once we got near the approach to Little Shark River, we heard other folks talking and it seemed there were around 8 boats already in the small anchorage space. We knew the tide fluctuates in that river about 5’ for each change. So, that meant the river’s water would be ripping in and out. Boats in that close quarters, high wind and ripping current conditions made us decide to just anchor off shore in a nice deep space. We knew we would have some protection since the winds were East, coming off the shore. “Windfall” was leaking fuel, and had lost speed all day and the Captain had lost his cookies. We heard them call their buddies and say they wouldn’t be in until after dark. We radio’d and told them our anchor light would be on and we’d be north of the river channel. Ken let them know that where we were anchored was calm and deep, if they didn’t want to attempt the river after dark. But, he decided to go all the way in for some inexplicable reason. The exchanges on the radio between him and his buddies were really interesting for us to listen to as he nearly hit another boat, drug anchor on their first attempt, etc. Bill on Manatee did a great job on the radio, calmly giving Leanne help, as she was at the helm of Windfall. They finally got their anchor set and it was around 9:00 and pitch dark on this moonless night. Because we were outside, watching Windfall come in and go in the river, we were privy to a beautiful starry sky and even enjoyed a shooting star. $ -0- spent this day.
April 23rd, 2009, Thursday, departed anchorage just off the south shore of Sanibel Island, Fl. A.m. generator reading was 1924.9. The alarm at our home went off in the middle of the night. Ken Sr. kindly met the police and they found nothing wrong. We emailed our neighbor Jane Dail and she was going to call the alarm company to get things looked at for us. We didn’t have a lot of wind, so just hugged the coast along Ft. Myers, Naples and sailed/motor sailed this day. Though we didn’t think we’d make it as far, we had our anchor down offshore of Marco Island, Florida at 5:30 p.m. We had a nice sunset in the calm anchorage. When the lights came on all the condos in the half moon cove around us, it was beautiful. Unfortunately, we didn’t get any pictures. The smoke from the Florida wildfires was pervasive and there was a haze in the sky. The wind clocked to the east as it was supposed to so the anchorage was calm all night. No moon this night as it is down to a tiny sliver and the smoke hid it well. $ -0- spent this day.
April 22nd, 2009, Wednesday, departed Boca Grande, on Gasparilla Island, Fl after having a lazy morning and not getting the anchor up until 9:00 a.m. There were more boats in this harbor than we have seen anywhere. We were accompanied out the channel by a number of motorboats, 2 monohull sailboats and one catamaran. We saw that the name of the catamaran was “Chris’ Cat” as we passed them. So, when everyone went south, once our sails were up, and we were all just cruising (slowly) along, we called them and had a nice conversation. Their home port was Hudson, Florida, just above Tarpon Springs. Though, the Captain had a really strong New York type accent. We told them we planned to anchor offshore this night at Sanibel Island. He said he was with the two other sailboats that came out with them. He said t cove on shorey planned on anchoring at Little Shark River, near Everglades City, Fl tonight night. We were shocked, as there was no way they would make it that far. They kept going further and further off shore and by the time we turned to Sanibel, they were out of sight. We saw a big hawk like bird this day that flew out, caught a fish and headed for shore with his prize. We also saw a few flying fish…finally far enough south to see them. Our anchor was down at the very south tip of Sanibel Island by 5:30 p.m. and it was nice to be in early. It allowed us some relaxation and steak grilling time. Miko was just so sweet and content this day, as usual, a really good boat dog. When we start sailing each, she acts like any other dog who’s parents leave each morning for work. She just jumps up on the sofa and naps, too cute. She is such an adaptable, wonderful puppy. When we were sitting outside after dinner, we saw a huge fish fly out of the water behind us, looked like a tarpon. Ken had seen one early as well. Very impressive. We had wifi here, so we checked emails, made some calls and prepared to see the double elimination show of American Idol.
April 21st, Tuesday, 2009, departed Sarasota, heading south toward home, though sometimes it is hard to know just where “home” might be. There is a house in Brunswick, Ga, but is that “home”? We felt at “home” in Sarasota, where there are family and people who have known Cindy since she has been on this ole earth. When we are in Tallahassee, with people who have known Ken since he has been on this ole earth, that feels like “home”. And, then there is Greenville, S.C. where there are friends we have both known for 25+ years. And, also in Greenville, our daughter and granddaughter are there and that feels like “home”. Then, there is Lake Hartwell, where we spent so many wonderful days and nights with all of the above, family, friends, our sweet Jess and Audrey. When cruising, the nice folks we meet along the way become like family, a number of them becoming close friends with whom we stay in touch. So, we are headed home….but, we guess that means we are headed to our house, and to “land “ that allow us to visit all our other “homes”. So, a house is not a home….where family and friends reside, that we guess will be our “home” in this transient life we are living. This day we departed Sarasota at around 9:00 a.m. after calling to say goodbye to Cindy’s mom. We had no issues navigating “Big Pass”, the inlet to and from Sarasota Bay. We exited the channel and immediately put up our sails. We had variable winds of 8-15 knots throughout the day and a nice swell behind us, pushing us along. We were sailing between 4.5 to 6.0 knots and it was really pleasant. Miko curled up on the couch in the salon and slept the day away. The previous two days of hard play with Sonny at the park, and Holly, brother Bruce’s dog…wore her flat out! We entered the inlet to Charlotte Harbor and anchored off Gasparilla Island, Boca Grande, anchor down at 7:20 p.m. We were so glad that we decided to pull in here, as the swells in the Gulf were building and the anchorage was nice and peaceful.
April 20th, Monday, 2009, Sarasota, Florida bay at anchor. A.m. generator was 19. Ken did some accounting work to help with Cindy’s Dad’s estate settlement. Then we went to shore and Miko played with Sonny at the park. And, we got Sonny’s dad’s email address so we can stay in touch. Sonny, the Spanish Water Dog, will be 5 years old on Sept. 9th. A cold front was to come through this day, with thunderstorms possible. We went to Mom’s and had lunch, went grocery shopping, hung a picture and ate dinner there as well. Brother Bruce came by to say goodbye as our plan was to leave the next day. His wife had a medical setback this day, so it was a very hard day. This was also Mom’s birthday, and it was also her anniversary. So, this was her first anniversary without day in 37 years. Very sad. Mom brought us back to the park and after we put our groceries in the dinghy, it was nice out, so we took a walk around a portion of the park. Once back to the dinghy, we said our goodbyes to Mom and got aboard the dinghy. Mom said she wanted to watch us go out to MTB. So, we headed out to MTB and waved back to her many times. It is so hard always to leave, especially when the family was dealing with so many difficult and emotional issues. We watched a little TV and went to bed.
April 19th, Sunday, 2009, Sarasota, Florida bay at anchor. Weather was mild, and pleasant. Though Mom’s birthday is Monday, we were gathering the family and celebrating this day. Cindy and Nancy went grocery shopping, and made a great lemon cake with an old family recipe. Another day that we ate really well…..grilled marinated chicken and baked potatoes with all the stuffings possible. Mom opened her gifts and we took her home, back to MTB just before dark.
April 18th, Saturday, 2009, Sarasota, Florida bay at anchor. About 9:00 a.m., Steve, from a neighboring sailboat came by and told us they had been keeping an eye on our boat Friday, as had others. Seems some kids in a kayak had come up to the boat Friday while we were not aboard. Nice folks to help us out. Steve and his girlfriend were the couple that lost their sailboat to a fire when we were here earlier. His girlfriend was a board and had to throw their two puppies in the water and jump herself. But, they weren’t hurt and some nice folks who had a sailboat they weren’t using, gave Steve a wonderful deal. So, they have a beautiful vessel they are once again living aboard. We went to shore at 9:30 a.m. with no worry about MTB, as we knew she was being watched really well. Miko had a play date with her friend Sonny, a Spanish Water Dog. Cindy headed to town to shop for her Mom’s birthday present and Ken stayed with Jose while Miko and Sonny played. We went to Mom’s for lunch and did the remainder of our laundry. Brother Bruce and sister Nancy came to Mom’s around 4:00 p.m.. The Jelly Belly traveling camper was at one of our favorite restaurants (with a bakery) across the street from Mom’s complex, so we ran over to see what was going on. They were handing out samples so we enjoyed a few little packets of the sweet delights. Of course, the guys disappeared into the bakery. Ken bought both cinnamon and sticky buns. Back to Mom’s, and we had a great home cooked dinner. She said it was like being a new bride, learning how to cook all over again. Mom hadn’t cooked for herself and, for so long Dad had been in a skilled nursing facility. It had been about 3 years. So, we all told her we would be glad to be her guinea pigs, through her re-learning process. Well, as if we hadn’t had enough sugar, after dinner we all (Miko, too) headed off to “Big Olaf’s” for ice cream. Later, when we got back to the municipal park where we were anchored, we were glad to see our dinghy was still there. We were especially glad that it was still afloat. Whenever we leave Toby on a shoreline, we have to guess how far to leave the dinghy offshore, anticipating what the tide will be. It makes it so much easier for us if Toby remains afloat. We just throw an anchor off the stern and walk a rope in to shore and tie it to something. Here in Sarasota, Ken tied us to a sign that said “no mooring”. Not sure if that meant no anchoring and tying off to their sign, or not. So far so good, so hopefully we will have the same luck until our departure. Granddaughter Audrey was a goalie on her team this day, we’re so proud and they even won their game. Future son in law, Brian, had two job offers this week, so we were also happy and proud of him.
April 17th, Friday, 2009, Sarasota, Florida bay at anchor. What a great night’s sleep. We had a lazy morning and it was hazy/overcast this morning. We packed up the dirty laundry, Miko, her crate and headed to shore. As we went into shore, we passed Charlie’s sailboat and saw his puppy Ocean, a dog Miko enjoyed playing with on our previous visit. Then, Cindy spotted Jose with his dog, Sonny on the sidewalk, right where we were going in to tie up the dink. What lucky timing. Sonny was Miko’s best buddy when we were here on our trip north. Cindy yelled and Jose waved and waited for us to get to shore. Miko went crazy and if we let her go, we were sure she would have walked on water to get to her dog friend, Sonny. Miko got some playtime in the park with Sonny and we made a date to play for a long time on Saturday morning at 9:30 a.m. It was so nice to see Jose and we got some good hugs. Sonny had his summertime trim and had lost his pretty curls but he was still handsome. We jumped in the car and headed to the sale at Boaters World. We found a new US flag needed for the boat and it was 30% off due to their going out of business sale. Then, we went to Cindy’s Mom’s, had lunch and Bruce and Ken went back to Boater’s World. Cindy and her Mom ran some errands and picked up some items on the shopping list. At 5:00 p.m. Bruce and Nancy picked us up at Cindy’s Mom’s to go north, over the Sunshine Skyway, to the Holiday Inn at its north end. We were meeting Nancy’s sister and husband, Carol and Clive there, as it is half way for each family. They live in Seminole, Florida. After a great dinner, nice conversation and ride back to Sarasota, we dropped off Mom, picked up Miko and drove back to the marina. We were happy to see that the dinghy was still where we left it AND it was in water, not aground because of low tide. We got back to Meant To Be around 10:00 p.m., unloaded the laundry, Miko and her crate. After watching a little TV we went to bed after a really nice day. High winds today clocked in at 20.6 knots in the anchorage.
April 16th, Thursday, 2009, departed Egmont Island, Florida, headed to Sarasota, to visit Cindy’s family once again and celebrate her Mom’s birthday and catch up with everyone. The sky was clear, with just a few puffy clouds and the huge swarms of birds on shore were quite the morning chorus with our breakfast. Cindy did the dishes, we took our shores and off we went south with hopes of sailing vs. motoring this day….always are hopeful. Well, wind turned directly behind us, so in wrong direction and light. We put up the sails, and motored as well. We did some cleaning on the boat, getting the dead black bugs from Anclote Island that swarmed into the cockpit. We had washed many off with buckets of water. But, the sneaky things were in the cracks of hatches and under the cushions. We entered the squirrely New Pass for Sarasota around 2:00 p.m. and it was a rising tide. So, we were comfortable we would have no depth issues. Marina Jack told us to expect 6’ all the way in when we called them on the VHF radio. Well, near the first red buoy we touched bottom and the depth finder read only .5’ of water was under us. Yikes! Well, Ken did a great job getting us back to deeper water by going starboard of the red buoy, whew. The previous day’s storms must have moved that one buoy out of place, as it was not where it should be for sure. The rest of the way in was fine. We had low wind and a slack tide so we decided to go straight into the fuel dock and top off our diesel. The Marina Jack guy at the dock was a total grump, must be having a bad day. And, he was someone who knew us from the time we spent in the Marina earlier this season. We thought maybe he was not happy that we weren’t coming in to dock this time, electing to anchor off the shore of the municipal park. Regardless, we paid and he was very helpful with our lines and pushing us off the dock. Ken backed us away from the fuel dock and we headed out to the anchorage. We picked a hole among the many vessels and anchored. The dinghy went down at 4:00 p.m. and we headed to shore. We tied the dinghy up at O’leary’s Tiki bar. Miko was so happy to be back at “her” park where she spent so much time and a major portion of her short life. Cindy’s Mom came by and picked us up at 5:00 p.m. and cooked a great dinner for us, yummy. C’s brother Bruce and sis Nancy came by Mom’s place too. So good to catch up yet again! Mom gave us her car to return to MTB, and that was so nice.
April 15th, Wednesday, 2009, Tax day, departed Anclote Island, Florida, headed south. What a difference a day can make. This a.m. the skies were beautiful blue, no clouds and light winds. There was only a moderate chop in the anchorage. We decided to stick our nose out to see if the Gulf seas had settled enough for us to head south. The wind was from the North, so any swell, we figured would be behind us and give us a nice push in the right direction. Well, we motored to the south end of the Island, and headed out the channel in between Anclote and Three Rooker Islands. Though the seas were still somewhat agitated, it was “do-able” so we continued out. The wind unfortunately was from due north directly behind us. We pulled out our jib sail, but it was no help. So, we finally gave up and decided to motor. It was a beautiful day, and even motoring, it was 1,000% better than the previous day we endured aboard. So, we both took turns at the helm, while the other got some “rays”. We pulled around to the southeast side of Egmont Island, which is a barrier island directly at the head of Tampa Bay, and just west of the Sunshine Skyway bridge. Anchor was down by 3:30 p.m. There were a number of other boats with us, but a little before sunset, all but one monohull sailboat departed, headed back to their homes. We had a nice relaxed afternoon. Actually saw a Coast Guard helicopter drop their personnel aboard a foreign flagged cargo ship to check their passport information. Very interesting. At about 6:00 p.m., dolphins visited us, a whole pod, so cool. Ken called his college bud, Mo, in Tampa to say hello and catch up, which was so nice. Ah, what a difference a day makes. It was an amazingly peaceful evening, listening to the noises of thousands of birds on shore, seeing the lights of the Sunshine Skyway to our east, and having such a calm anchorage.
April 14th, Tuesday, 2009. Anchored off Anclote Island, near Tarpon Springs, Florida. Well, did we ever awake to some excitement this morning. This day, we knew there was an 80% chance of precipitation and that was the main reason we stayed put in this anchorage. Winds were forecast to be SW and 15-25 knots this day. Well, talk about getting it wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong. This a.m., we clocked the highest wind at 56.8 knots…yes, that’s 56.8 knots. Talk about a wild ride and loud noise, we had both. From about 8:30 a.m. through, the bad weather continued. After the 56.8 reading, the next high wind we clocked was 42.9. Cindy took pictures of the 56.8 digital read out on the screen as it was one to remember, for sure. We were glad we were in a large bay, with no one and nothing around us, less worry when our anchor broke loose a few times and we drug about 500 feet beyond where we originally anchored. Tornadoes hit Tarpon Springs, Florida, and that was where we were anchored, in their bay, off the mainland. We had the Weather Channel on and they showed damage on the nearby shore. After the strongest line of storms passed, the bay settled right down and for a short period of time, it was calm, so we were optimistic. But, NOPE, the weather whipped up once again with high seas and sustained 30-35 knot winds. A tornado and severe weather warning was in effect until 2:00 p.m. so we just kept watching the clock and wishing for time to pass. We were really ready for things to calm down as stress levels were increasing. Well, 2:00 p.m. came and went and we still had huge waves hitting us, the anchor was dragging periodically and there were sustained winds around 35-40 knots. We were relieved that the rain stopped around 3:00 p.m. and it seemed that the sky was lightening slightly. But, 10 minutes later, there was lightening and thunder around us. Winds and waves would subside, then just re-build again. We had many periods of false hope, wishing that the worst was past each time. Annie kitty got scared in the morning, cried out, so we brought her up from her berth to be with us. Miko seemed to be doing fine except when an occasional loud crash from a big wave would startle her. She luckily had gone out and “done her business” during the “lull” we had in between squalls in the morning. She just stayed on the couch with us and played with her many, many toyz. For much of the morning we had that “sounded like a freight train” noise that victims of tornadoes always mention. This was a little disconcerting to say the least. About noon, we put Miko in her cage to relax and very shortly she was sound a sleep. We are able to watch storms on our radar screen in the salon. So while watching TV and waiting for things to get better, we kept our eyes pealed on the radar screen. We kept saying, yeah, it looks like its getting better….forever the optimists. Jacksonville TV was reporting 24,000 people without electricity. Well, there is a good thing from all this…Florida really needed the rain…man did they (and we) get it. By 5:00 p.m., things were not significantly improved and it seemed winds and waves were yet again building, which was not good news.
April 13th, Monday, 2009. Still anchored off Anclote Island, near Tarpon Springs, Florida. A.m. generator was 1907.6. The winds were up to 22 knots, from the south this day and seas 3-5 feet. Since we were going south, it would have been an uncomfortable ride as we’d have to motor and the waves would be coming toward us. So, we called Cindy’s mom and told her we probably wouldn’t be into Sarasota until Thursday. Tuesday was to be more of the same, just with higher winds and seas, added thunderstorms. So, we knew we’d just stay put until Wednesday and do a couple boat jobs. C’s mom had been watching the reports and expected us to be delayed. White caps built through the morning in the bay, so we knew the gulf waters would be worse and we did the right thing by not heading out. We were happy not to see more black spots all over the boat when we got up this a.m. And, we hoped we wouldn’t have a recurrence of the swarm that joined us on Easter day. We were overlooking a Florida Power plant on the mainland shore. Though very large with a huge smoke stake and was very visible during the day, its lights were really nice at night. $-0- spent this day.
April 12th, Sunday, 2009, Easter Day. A.m. port engine was 1074.3, s/b was 1021.4, generator a.m. 1906.1. We had a nice breakfast and researched the upcoming coastline south, to decide where we would be headed on Monday. The Pass-A-Grille inlet was our choice. Then, we dropped the dinghy and took Miko to shore at about 10:30 a.m. for her long promised walk on land. She does great though, just staying aboard. We guess the boat is a whole lot bigger and more fun than that cage at the pet store. And, she so loves being spoiled and having our 24/7 attention as well. We aimed the dinghy for a little beach we could see on Anclote Island and had a really nice ride in. The water was aqua blue and smooth, making it pleasurable for all of us. There was a SeaDoo” Bomadier” boat anchored at the beach and we saw two dogs. This made Miko so happy….land, people and DOG friends. Aw, life was good. Their Cockapoo was named Lexus and the Labradoodle was named Bentley (son named them and he’s a “car nut”). We really enjoyed talking with their nice parents, too…locals from Tarpon Springs, formerly from Seminole, Florida. We were going to go over to the Gulf side of the Island, but Graham told us that dogs were not allowed on the island. So, we just hung out at the little beach. We kept Miko on her leash as well and made sure we picked up everything after her. On the way into this nice little cove, we saw a Bald Eagle, how cool is that? It is nice to see their comeback from near distinction. There were many other types of birds and huge pelicans all around this area. We do understand not allowing dogs to run wild in these birding areas and are respectful. Cindy found some good shells on the shore, different types than we had seen on the Gulf beaches. About 12:30 p.m. we departed this nice little bayside beach and took a little putt putt tour along the island’s bayside shoreline. This was a nice pristine place and we were glad we came. We were back to MTB by 1:00 p.m. and surprised to find it spotted black with zillions of flying ants. What was weird was that most of the little ants had shed their wings on a rug sitting in front of our salon door. It was so weird. We threw open all the wind screens in the cockpit, set out bug coils and sprayed the air with bug spray. It was so nasty….little black dots in the rugs, all over the seats and floor of the cockpit. We were glad that even though we left some hatches open, only a couple critters found their way into the boat. Ken and Cindy each grabbed a bucket and started washing off everything with bay water, to get rid of all the dead and living critters. Not a fun thing. Wind was only 3.5 knots, so the bugs just got caught in our cockpit’s “vortex”. All afternoon inside, we both kept feeling “phantom” bugs crawling on us. Miko just went outside and laid down under the mainsail, in the shade. She’s a pretty smart puppy. We watched the final round of the Masters Tournament, enjoyed seeing Angel Cabrera win. $-0- spent this day
April 11TH, Saturday, 2009, departed the anchorage 13 miles offshore, west of Homosassa Springs, Florida, heading south. A.m. generator was 1901.9, and the a.m. port engine hours were 1068.5 and starboard hours 1015.6. The wind was to be WEST this day and 10-15 knots…perfect for us to sail. But, luck would have it, we had south winds 15-20 on our nose all day. We wished we could have a service/job that allowed us to be wrong all the time and still be the definitive expert, NOAA, geez. Well, between the crab pots and bad wind direction, this was yet another day that we had to motor all day. We so hate burning fuel, having the noise/smell of the diesel engines. But, since engines were running, we turned on the water make and almost filled one tank with newly made fresh water. Ken fixed a line on the trampoline that had broken. And, he also transferred fuel from the front to back tank. It was nice out, warm, so that also helped the trip be more pleasant. We made the 35 miles south to Anclote Island in good time. We pulled into the channel, around the north sand bar that was filled with party boats (Saturday before Easter) and headed south. This was a nice bay just offshore from Tarpon Springs and Anclote is a barrier island full of mangroves, small inlets, little beaches, with a lighthouse. We anchored about a mile off Anclote Island with a nice view and supposedly there was better holding here than closer in. We were in about 10 feet of water, safe and sound, and it was only 2:00 p.m. It was nice to be in early. We had phone service finally after being without it for about a week, so checked in with both families. Though, we still didn’t have WIFI here. It has been awhile as we were in Panama City the last time we were able to get connected. This was definitely a boating community…all types of boats of different shapes and sizes of boats, everywhere. We watched the Masters Tournament, saw the Seminole Baseball team lose to North Carolina, made some dinner and slept like babies in this nice protected venue.
April 10th, Friday, 2009 – anchored off NW Channel, Cedar Key, Florida. A.m. generator reading was 1901.1 and port engine hours read 1062.6 and starboard was 1010.3. Light winds from the wrong direction would probably require us to motor all this day. So, we decided to have a relaxed morning, take showers and do some other tasks. Ken fired up both A/C units as they hadn’t been run since our departure from Sarasota, February 26th. And, he made a new tether for Miko to wear on the boat while we sail along from the big line that we took down from the mast. Since it was white and aqua, it matched her harness and she was looking nice and nautical. We had been using two leashes secured together, just not as nice. The seas were forecast as relatively calm for the next 2-4 days. We talked about motoring into the shore of the downtown area of Cedar Key. But, since it was shallow and high tide wasn’t until 2:41 p.m, we just decided to head south later in the day and anchor off somewhere after traveling for a few hours, maybe about 20 miles. Saturday’s winds were forecast as light but west and they would be the right direction for us to sail vs. motoring the next day. So, we just figured we’d get a few miles under our belts this day even if we had to motor. We hoped we would have an easier day and be able to sail the rest of the way to the Tarpon Springs/Anclote Island area on Saturday. It was nice to be going south finally, as the overall, the weather seemed to be milder than what we had been dealing with in the Panhandle. We were glad we made the trip up there, as we have some great memories of times with Ken’s family. It was all good… And now, here we were back in the land of crab pots! We started up the instruments, ready to leave and got surprised…as our route charts did not come up on the monitor at the helm. Oh man. We tried a number of things, but it just had lines across the screen. Cindy thought it may be due to moisture so we decided to leave it on. And, we could leave using the chart monitor in the salon, along with our handheld GPS. Well, shortly after our anchor was up, the charts display came back on the helm monitor screen, YEAH. Seemed the warmth of it being on may have allowed it to dry out and come back. We motored all the way south to Homosassa Springs, Florida and anchored offshore in 15 feet of water. The anchor was down at around 6:00 p.m. and we jumped on the TV to see what had happened with the Masters. Tiger was –2, tied with a bunch of guys for 17th place. We still didn’t have any WIFI, having none since we left Panama City, so we felt pretty disconnected from everyone. We hoped to get to Anclote Island/Tarpon Springs area on Saturday, and hoped to be able to steal some WIFI with our super duper Radio Lab extended reach antenna. Saw only one dolphin all by himself way offshore today. $ -0- spent this day.
April 9th, Thursday, 2009 – departed offshore anchorage, west of Steinhatchee, Florida, continuing south. A.m. generator reading was 1900.9. Port engine hours were 1061.3 and starboard engine hours were 1004.7. We got up and going this a.m. and were hoping to make as far south as Cedar Key. We had the anchor and sails up by 8:30 a.m. and had winds in a good direction. Some of the day we had to add a motor to help the sails. We were back to the land of “crab pots” so had to keep a good watch out once again. But, we were able to sail much of the day and that is always so nice. We read a lot and listened to funny things folks were broadcasting on the VHF radio. We heard a sailboat named Escape was having issues and Tow Boat US was called. When they got to them, the Tow Boat captain radio’d his dispatcher that the folks wanted a quote to have them towed from Crystal River to Tarpon Springs because “THEY WANT OFF THE BOAT”. We figured they had mechanical or some other boat type of troubles. When the estimate was ready, dispatch called the Tow Boat US captain and told them the full tow would cost Escape out of pocket $1,000 to $1,500 above their $2,500 coverage. The captain radio’d Escape, but got no answer because the people were “down below and SEASICK”. Too funny…no mechanical issues, just sick. Dispatch told him to stop the tow and get an answer, period, as he had to know if he needed to send another boat. Once again the Captain told dispatch “THEY WANT OFF THE BOAT”. Finally the answer came back that Escape would just go into Crystal River. Situations like this are always fun to listen to on the VHF radio, like the old telephone “party line”. Cindy figured that wife will never go sailing again. We arrived at Cedar Key’s Northwest Channel and had the anchor down around 6:30 p.m. just north of North Key. This gave us protection from the south winds though there was a ripping current coming through. Once anchored, Miko was out with one of her favorite toys. When a dolphin surfaced right next to MTB, Miko spit out her toy and just stared at the dolphin in amazement. She sure makes us laugh. During our travels this day, Ken noticed the line to the topping lift on the boom had frayed and needed immediate replacement. We were glad it was nice and calm here and got out some new line out. Ken brought down the old line, taped the new one to it and fed it back up and down, through the mast. It all worked as it was supposed to and we were so glad to know it was done. We had a great night, with sirloin on the grill, the Masters on TV and an incredible sunset and full moon. $ -0- spent this day.
April 8th, Wednesday, 2009, departed Carrabelle, Florida. A.m. generator was 1900.9. $26 spent this day, stamps, food and lunch. We went to shore this day to give Miko a walk. We stopped by the Chamber of Commerce and met some really nice folks. They gave us brochures and had us sign their guest book. Next we went to the local Post Office for some stamps. A little further up the main drag is the Franklin County library. So, Ken went in and printed off the tax forms we needed to do our IRS and Georgia State extensions…we’ll do the real taxes once home and able to collect all our paperwork. Cindy and Miko sat out in a grassy area and waited for him….no dogs allowed in a library! We visited the Dollar General to buy some bread, parmesan cheese, mixed nuts and Easter cards for granddaughters Audrey and Morgan. Cindy/Miko got the cards ready and took them to the Post Office. Ken went to the Subway to get a sandwich to take back to MTB for lunch. K and C met back up and headed to the dinghy. We were sad at the thought of leaving this wonderful area as we have so enjoyed the town and people here. Back to MTB, our subway Tuna $5 foot long really hit the spot and was enjoyed. We put up Toby, the dinghy and prepared to depart. The plan was just to finally get going. We had the anchor and sails up by 1:30 pm and departed our anchorage spot that had been so enjoyable. We sailed through St. George Sound on the north side of Dog Island, going east. It is such a beautiful place and we enjoyed the view along the way. The winds were in the right direction and seas were behind us, giving a nice push, increasing our speed. We never thought we would make it as far as we did this day but we were running about 8 knots at times due to winds around 18-22 and large, pushing seas. Winds/seas increased all day and it was COLD. All the weather information sources said that the seas/winds were to diminish in the p.m. to 5-10 knots and seas 2-3’. So, we planned to anchor offshore when we were ready to stop this day. Unfortunately, nothing diminished and we were way offshore, with no option other than finding as shallow a spot as possible to drop our anchor. To get to the best spot possible, we had to keep sailing until just after sundown. It was dark when we finally dropped our anchor and all our anchor rode (chain). We were anchored offshore in 23’ of water, 20 miles west of Steinhatchee, Florida. We knew it was going to be quite a night, with crashing seas and howling winds that would make sleep difficult. Though, we remained optimistic that the forecast would be right and things would modify. Nope. Luckily, the anchor hung really well and nothing was around for miles, so no real worries. Even though the winds/seas made this probably our worst sleeping night ever, we weren’t concerned about MTB. Our other most scary anchoring time was in Marco Island, FL when the seas and winds were really bad. But, there we knew that we were close to shore/rocks. And, if we drug there, we had very little reaction time before being in trouble. So that made that situation more stressful than this night. That made this night our 2nd worst night ever at anchor on MTB. We survived both situations without incident, and that serves to increase confidence in our vessel and equipment. And, little Miko was a trouper and seemed not to be stressed in anyway, was actually sound asleep in her crate when we came up from our berth in the a.m. Good dog.
April 7th, Tuesday, 2009, Carrabelle, Florida, at anchor. A.m generator reading was 1899.6. This was another day that we couldn’t travel nor get to town. In addition to the crazy winds, seas and currents, this day we had cold weather. It was about 60 degrees in the salon most of the day. So, we watched TV and ate, our normal lazy day pastimes. Looking at the forecast, we could feasibly be hunkered down the rest of the week as winds were in the wrong direction and the seas high. But, things change on a daily basis when it comes to forecasts, so who knows?! We needed WIFI access to be able to print the IRS and Georgia tax forms to process an extension. We will file our taxes when we get back to land. But, we needed to get the extension done, as the filing deadline was approaching quickly. Wednesday looked like it might be calm enough to dinghy into Carrabelle and we knew we could us the local library and post office to do what was needed. Miko also needed a walk on land, as well. At least the sun was bright and we were making solar power, always a good thing.
April 6th, Monday, 2009, Carrabelle, Florida at anchor. Generator a.m. reading was 1898.2. From our anchorage, we could look south and see two gorgeous barrier islands. Dog Island is on the east side and St. George Island lies to the west on St. George Sound, the bay we were anchored in. Both islands are beautiful, and neither one has high rise, cement monstrosities like those we see on Florida’s east coast. Dog Island can only be reached by boat and there is a ferry from Carrabelle. There is a bridge over to St. George Island. St. George has a state park and beautiful sand dunes, some development, and a lot of single family beach homes of all different colors, shapes and sizes. The surrounding area is really nice and less developed than a lot of Florida. Though, the bay and river water here is not as pretty and clear as the waters we saw west of here around Destin (“the Emerald Coast). The Crooked River water leading into downtown Carrabelle actually resembled frothy “Coca Cola” as our dinghy motor sloshed through. But, the water along the gulf side of these two barrier islands is better. Winds were clocking around to the N/NW this day. And the large “rollers” we had early morning subsided by lunch time, the sun came out and the skies were blue. Unfortunately, past days and a number of future days’ heavy winds were going to keep the Gulf seas high, not allowing our departure south. We did some phone banking, as we had no WIFI where we were anchored. But, through the evening the rollers grew larger and were coming at us from opposing directions, a result of weird winds and currents. We watched UNC win the NCAA tournament and of course “Dancing With The Stars”.
April 5th, Sunday, 2009, Carrabelle, Florida at anchor at the mouth of the Crooked River channel. A.m. generator 1896.7 after running some in the morning. We had a calm anchorage, and a nice lazy morning this day, enjoying two pots of coffee. We were so looking forward to the family coming down from Tallahassee for lunch. And, weirdly, then came the fog and we were totally socked in. We couldn’t even see the shore nearest to where we were anchored. Boats went riding by us that were looking for the main channel entrance to the Crooked River. It was funny. We actually put out our ship’s bell so as the boat rocked it would clang to hopefully keep someone from running into us. Ken’s family called to let us know they were about ½ hour away. We assured them that the fog was not a problem. We knew we could use our hand held GPS to get into town and meet them in Carrabelle at noon. We sure didn’t want to miss an opportunity to visit with family. We ran the generator before leaving MTB to be able to leave our anchor light on for the time we were off the boat. Miko stayed aboard and we headed to town. Luckily, the fog lifted some and we could at least see the shore. The winds/tide were with us so it was a quick and nice ride inland on the river to the community boat dock/put in. The family was already there waiting for us as we pulled up. Karen, Kim, Brent, Anna and Peter all came from Tallahassee to have lunch with us, how cool. We all walked around town some and then headed for the Riverview Restaurant to eat. Man, did they have good seafood…fried shrimp, crab cakes, blackened grouper and the best hush puppies! The waitress told us that they served only fresh seafood, nothing frozen. She said their local fishermen come straight in from their boats to sell their seafood to the restaurant. And, then the Riverview’s bar takes the money right back from them, as the fishermen drank up that day’s profits. Too funny…ah, America. It was a great restaurant choice, a nice and laid back time together. The girls went to the IGA so Cindy could pick up a few groceries. The guys stayed at the fishing pier and watched the action on the river. With lunch and shopping taken care of and a really rough and wet dinghy ride back, we were aboard MTB by 3:00 p.m. Once again, we were so appreciative of the family for taking the time and making the effort to come down to see us from Tallahassee. We both are so very lucky to have such good families. We watched some TV and remained aboard the remainder of the day. It stayed overcast and gray all day. This has been really a weird weather pattern…very a-typical for the area. But, you take what you get and we are very glad we came up this direction anyway. $34.60 for groceries at the IGA and $ 25.00 for a great lunch.
April 4th, Saturday, 2009, departed St. Vincent Island, Florida. A.m. generator was 1895.6 as we motored the entire previous day. It was nice to finally be back in the Eastern time zone, so didn’t have to keep figuring out what time it was. Some of our clocks/electronics were changed to Central and some had not been. So, the whole time in the Central zone, we were confused. We had anchors up at 8:30 a.m. and due to the forecast of East winds, we knew we would be motoring this day. We did put out the jib and it actually gave us about a 1 knot push in our speed. We were motoring into the 4-6’ waves this day, so it was actually a rougher ride than the previous day with the huge waves. We went in as close to the shore of St. George Island as we found that the ride was a little better. We really enjoyed being so close to shore and the beautiful view of the individual beach homes…all colors, sizes and shapes. This stretch of the beach was really special, so different from the cement and high rises of the east coast of Florida. We ducked in the channel between St. George and Dog Islands and headed across the bay to the entrance of the CrookedRiver. We anchored at Carrabelle, just out of the channel at the entrance to the CrookedRiver. Ken spoke to his sister Karen and cousin Glenn. Ken and Cindy both grabbed showers to take advantage of the hot water heated while running the engines all day. Then Toby, the dinghy, went into the water, and off to town we all went. Miko still makes us smile when she gets so happy and excited to be on Toby, riding to shore. We docked at the community dock, took our garbage to the receptacle, took some mail to the Post Office, and walked the mile or so to the IGA. We bought a few groceries and then stopped at a roadside trailer type restaurant called “The Fisherman’s Wife”. We ordered two dinners, a side of fried green tomatoes and a slice of homemade key lime pie, all to go. While waiting, the “no-see ums” were eating us alive so the owners came out and lit their Citronella tiki torches for us. ICHKIBAN is the name of their fishing vessel. It was ironic that we had heard them on the radio in our travels. These were such nice and accommodating folks. Everyone we have met in this town has been great. Back to the dinghy, back down the river, out to the bay and we were on MTB by 7:00 p.m. We were starved and dove into our take out food. It was absolutely great…shrimp, grouper, hush puppies, fries, slaw, beans, tomatoes and pie. The Fisherman’s Wife is very highly recommended, and was happily enjoyed. Karen called back from Tallahassee to say that she and sister Kim and her husband Brent were going to drive to Carrabelle on Sunday to have lunch with us. Miko got the run of the boat before dark as it was calm and the dinghy was down (in case she fell in!). She loves it when she gets this freedom…she runs around like a crazy animal. She got up on the top of the cockpit roof and was chasing her tail in between the solar panels. Luckily, she didn’t fall in. A little TV topped off a decent day’s travel of about 35 miles, and a really nice afternoon/evening.
April 3rd, Friday, 2009, departed Panama City, Florida, heading east. A.m. generator was 1895.6. And, the p.m. port engine hours were 1052.1 and starboard 995.5. Forecasts all said 5-7 seas, but with west winds. So, the seas would be pushing from behind us, giving us a little extra momentum in the right direction. It is always an easier ride when the waves are coming from behind. And, we weren’t concerned about our decision to leave. Winds were to be W / NW, 15-20 knots, so we really hoped for a good sail. Well, we started heading out the nice marked channel and knew the weather reports were bogus! The 4-6’ seas were more like 8-10’ but from behind. It wasn’t totally awful and we only had a two day weather window, so wanted to get some miles behind us. But, these were by far the biggest seas we have traveled in aboard MTB. And, unfortunately the 15-20 knot winds were actually closer to 8-12 knots. The seas were so big, we didn’t feel comfortable turning into them to set the mainsail. So, we let out our jib motored all day. Up and down, we rode a wave to the top then rode it down into its trough. We didn’t see any dolphins this day, and we could have used the diversion. The scenery along the coast was beautiful, white beaches and sand dunes along the way at Port St. Joe and Cape San Blas, so that was nice. Wind was to change during the night, so we weren’t too concerned about our decision to anchor offshore, vs. going into Mexico Beach or Port St. Joe ….as it is a long way in to those places. So, we went around the crashing shoals at the tip of Cape San Blas and headed to the shoreline along St. Vincent Island, an uninhabited and pristine place. Our anchor was down into crashing surf at 6:00 p.m. and we made it about 55 miles this day. We just hoped the winds would diminish and seas would lay down as they were supposed to during the night. And, yep, that was the case and we both had a great night’s sleep.
April 2nd, Thursday, 2009 – Panama City, Florida, at anchor. A.m. generator was 1,893.4 and the a.m. port engine read 1050.05 hours, starboard 986.0. This day was a very stormy one and we knew we could be kept aboard by weather, yet another day. Miko seemed fine, even though she hadn’t been to shore since Saturday. We were lucky that last evening, fog rolled in and the water was like glass. Since the anchorage was so smooth, we let Miko roam free all around the boat. So, she had plenty of fun and lots of exercise time during the calm interlude. She is a wonderfully adaptable and truly an amazing little boat critter. She actually smiles when running wild and loose all over MTB. It was so strange to have such a calm anchorage, as the Gulf seas forecast was for BIG waves. So, this day we enjoyed a homemade sausage breakfast casserole and just listened & watched the rain, thunder and lightening. The rain was very heavy and we were happy for the locals, as they have been in a draught situation for some time. Might know our arrival would cause a typhoon! Annie kitty must have become afraid of the storm related noises. She actually risked facing Miko head on to come up from her berth to be comforted and close to her folks. We found her a nice high perch and she curled up on a blanket. She seemed peaceful being with us, even though Miko cried periodically…trying to get to her. Like rain falling on a tin roof….the heavy rain drops made a pleasant sound coming down over us on the decks as we sat in the salon. The only concerns in this type of bad weather are the possibility of a tornado or a lightening strike. But, we felt comfortable as the storm came through. The anchor alarm sounded several times through the morning and early afternoon. We weren’t dragging, just swinging all different directions on our anchor rode (chain) as the front passed through and the winds clocked around. Our hope was that the front would blow through, the sun would come out and the bay calm enough to drop our dinghy. We hoped to go ashore to see downtown Panama City, let Miko have a walk and go to a grocery store. We were getting too low on coffee for comfort! And, we may pull out Friday as weather reports were pretty good for our departure east. But, none of that happened as the rain and winds that day were constant. Sheets of rain, thunder and lightening were with us all day. We just hung onboard and went to bed early in anticipation of sailing the next day. $-0- spent this day.
April Fools Day, Wednesday, 2009 – Panama City, Florida, at anchor. We woke up to gray skies, low lying clouds again this day. We could be sailing, if the Gulf seas weren’t so high… 6-8’. But, we are patient and take what comes. Around noon, Ken noticed the winds were lessening and realized that it was slack tide (the little bit of calm time just following high tide, before low starts). Out of the blue, he proposed we pull anchor and go fill up our diesel tanks. That way, when we were ready to get out of here…we could go without stopping at a fuel dock. So, Ken called Panama City Marina and they said the fuel dock was clear, and to come on in. We pulled up anchor and headed across the bay to downtown Panama City. The City runs two really nice, local marinas here. Once there, we had to turn in our own circumference to be able to approach the fuel dock for a starboard side tie up. Ken can see the starboard side of the boat better than the port side from the helm. So, when approaching a dock, a starboard side tie helps him visually when going in. He got us turned around (between a cement wall, boat slips and the fuel dock) and over to the fuel dock without incident. Cindy threw “Butch” a midline and he got us tied off while Cindy got the bumpers placed where needed. Once the bow and stern lines were secure on the dock cleats, by 12:30 p.m. we were pumping diesel fuel. Butch is assisted by a Jack Russell named Salty. Ah, re-fueling is always a good thing to get behind us. We re-fuel or go into docks so infrequently (though we have never had a problem) that we still worry some when approaching an unknown dock. However, we prescribe to the theory that one should never approach a dock faster than one wants to hit it. We take it slow and easy and Ken always does a great job. And yes, it always feels great when it is over and we get a way from the dock safe and sound! We pumped 108.95 gallons of diesel to fill our tanks. It cost $233.00 at $2.14 per gallon. WHOO HOO!!! Last season we were paying about $5 gallon in the Bahamas. We hadn’t filled up since February 26th, 2009, in Sarasota. So, considering how far we’d come and how much we had had to motor, this usage wasn’t too bad. We hoped this fill up would last until we pulled into our home marina, in Brunswick, GA. It could if the winds blow in the right direction for us, eliminating so much motoring time! And, these gray skies don’t allow us to generate much solar power, so we run the generator more and that eats diesel fuel. So, we hoped for sunshine and winds blowing us home! When done at the fuel dock, we went right back to the same cove, anchored and spent the rest of the day being lazy bums.
March 31st, Tuesday, 2009 – Panama City, Florida, at anchor. Generator in the a.m. 1,886.1, port engines 1049.5, starboard hours 985.0. Since we knew we weren’t going to move this day, we were able to sleep in a little longer than normal and that was a treat. We awoke to a gray and overcast day but who cared? We made cinnamon rolls for breakfast, watched barges and other vessels going east and west on the waterway. We had folks on a Hobie Cat go by us a number of times, flying their hulls in the good winds. You could tell that they knew what they were doing, and the couple looked like they were having a blast. Made us reminisce a little, as Ken’s sister Kim and husband Brent had a Hobie Cat at one time that they really enjoyed. The morning, lunch and day end sirens sounded at a nearby plant. And, at 6:00 p.m., the Tyndall Air force Base taking down of the flag music was blaring and we could hear it so well. The National Anthem followed. Miko was confused about where music was coming from, standing out on the front trampolines tilting her head back and forth. It triggered childhood memories for Ken. He had forgotten that this was done nightly on military bases. Being raised with this ceremony and patriotism every day on the Navy bases where he lived, made a lasting impression. It seems today that many young people never have these patriotic moments and times to feel the pride of our country. So, we enjoyed hearing the music very much and looked forward to the next day to hear it again. Miko got her toenails cut this day. And, it rained hard off and on through this day. This was good as MTB was very salty from the high seas we traveled through over the last couple of days. So, mostly we read, called folks, played on the computer, played with Miko and ate. Cindy made chocolate chip cookies for an afternoon snack that were very much enjoyed by the crew. Sorry Miko, no chocolate for little puppies. After dialing in the Follow Me TV satellite & watching some TV, we were off to dreamland.
March 30th, Monday, 2009 – Departed Ft. Walton Beach, Fl at headed east. It felt good to be working our way toward home finally, though slowly. The weather forecast for the wind direction was once again inaccurate this day. We had seas and winds right on our nose all day so no sailing at all. We motored our way east to Panama City, Florida, a run of around 50 miles. We entered the entrance channel as a pod of mama and baby dolphins were out having fun. To be able to see baby dolphins playing is one of the coolest things one can witness. When their little tiny tails come out of the water along the side of their mama, it is really something special. We feel so lucky, as we have seen this 3 times so far on this trip. We motored further into the bay at Panama City than we had on our last visit when we were going West in the Gulf. That trip, we anchored off a beautiful barrier island, Shell Island. On the way in an Air Force AEWACS (early warning jet) flew directly overhead. It had a huge round dish atop of it. We continued inland. This time we passed downtown Panama City and pulled into a large, empty, un-inhabited cove near Palmetto Point, across the bay from the City/mainland. We loved the scenery, and we were the only ones there. And, our antennae was able to access free WIFI at the local marina across the bay. What a great anchorage, calm and peaceful, with green, green vegetation all around us. An occasional fishing boat came by during the evening and we saw a huge container ship come out from a plant on the opposite shore. We are in the flight path to Tyndall’s landing strip so have fly boyz going by in pairs and it really is like our own private air show.
March 29th, Sunday, 2009 – Departed Gulf Breeze (Pensacola Bay, FL) with anchor up at 8:00 a.m. and sails up by 9:30 a.m. Our plan was to go as far east as possible this day as we needed to be tucked in somewhere, hopefully Panama City by Monday night. Another cold front was expected on Tuesday, good grief Charlie Brown. We were able to sail much of the day and as luck would have it, the winds built during the afternoon. Ah, this is great for sailing, not great for anchoring. Since we planned to anchor offshore at Ft. Walton Beach, this was not good news. But, we decided to head to shore and anchor with enough time before dark to allow us to move if we didn’t hook. Well, we have the best equipment and are a good anchoring team. The seas were probably around 6-8 feet and not nice rolly waves, but the angry choppy kind that were crashing all around us and on shore. But, the forecast said the wind was to turn to north and if it did so, we knew the seas would drop and all the effects of the strong winds would diminish. Well, yes, we hooked great. Though it was very noisy and we rocked back and forth, we held. It was really noisy went we went to bed. But, we both slept great this night. When we woke up, the seas were calm and we looked like sailing geniuses! Not often does that happens!
March 20th Friday to Saturday, March 28th, 2009, Gulf Breeze (Pensacola), FL. We were at anchor here for longer than expected. But, it was all good. The dinghy went down the first morning after our arrival, and a few pots of coffee. We spent some great time catching up with Ken’s family (Aunt Marilyn, cousin Leslie and her husband Gerry). We were able to take long walks and gave Miko some great shore time. Ken’s sister, Karen, arrived on Saturday from Tallahassee with sister Kim and foreign exchange son, Peter. Karen planned to come aboard for a week’s sail back east. The weather reports were awful so after spending a few nights ashore at Aunt Marilyn’s and with the rest of the family, she didn’t even get to come aboard. We did share some great meals, great times and that was really nice. By Wednesday, Karen threw in the towel, rented a car and drove back to Tallahassee on Thursday, the 26th. We were really so sorry this didn’t work out, as we all were looking forward to her visit on Meant To Be. “Hank” in Gulf Breeze at the park where we were anchored off was such a help to us as we went in and back from MTB and shore. He grabbed our lines, walked our puppy, took our garbage to the dumpster for us….a really nice and helpful person. The park was gorgeous, even had a dog park for our little Shiba Inu to play. Our visit here was great….except for the storms. On Friday night, March 27th, the winds & seas were truly awful and we rocked all night. Luckily, a catamaran does not rock much side to side, mostly just front to back. We actually slept pretty well off and on throughout the night, considering the chaos around us. We saw 35-40 knot winds through Saturday morning. We were not able to leave MTB from Wednesday night to Saturday. White caps wouldn’t have allowed a safe ride. Saturday we pumped out the dinghy for the third time and finally was able to venture to shore. Aunt Marilyn picked us up at 1:30 p.m. and took us to her house. Miko was happy as she has a wonderful, fenced back yard. It was her 8 month birthday, on the 28th. The local family cooked us another wonderful meal, with Leslie/Gerry bringing a Boston Butt that had cooked all day…yummy. Aunt Marilyn made homemade sour cream biscuits and, topped off with ice cream and fresh strawberries…it was a great meal. Even better, they sent us back to MTB with leftovers. We got back to MTB about 5:45, getting soaked as the bay waters had built once again, winds built again in the after noon to 30+…geez. The dinghy was put up and we drained her out. The local family all assured us that this weather was very uncharacteristic and they all felt so bad for us. But, we are used to respecting the weather and adapting to whatever situation we have….no problem man. We hoped to sail east on Sunday, if the seas had laid down some. Thank you Marilyn, Leslie and Gerry for a really wonderful visit and for making us feel so welcome. Another chapter in the “family” cruise we undertook this season.
March 19th, Thursday, left Fort Walton Beach for Pensacola, Fl. Generator in the a.m. 1866.2; port engine 1035.1, starboard engine 970.8. Temperature was 76 degrees in the salon during the afternoon. Cindy made cinnamon rolls for breakfast this a.m. We called the UPS store to have our mail sent to Tallahassee so Ken’s sisters can bring it to us in Pensacola, on Saturday. We left at 9:00 a.m. Central daylight time this morning…sails up. Winds were variable from 2-9 knots. We were patient sailors this day, trying to keep sailing without cranking up the engines (ick). We went by the national Gulf Coast shoreline, weather stations, and beautiful water and sand all the way. We heard a notice from the New Orleans Coast Guard stating a man was overboard in their area. We hear the most interesting things on the VHF radio through each day. We seemed to finally be free of crab pots…knock on wood! Once at the mouth of the Pensacola entrance channel, we dropped the sails and motored in. We pulled into our anchorage off the south shore of Gulf Breeze, FL at about 7:00 p.m. It was great as it had a park with boat ramps, dock, parking lot, beautiful view…etc. There was protection from all but a strong S or SW wind. We had WIFI here which was great…to be able to do some banking and update the website, email friends/family, etc. It looked like we could be hunkered down a few days, as strong easterly winds were forecast, with resulting high seas. But, Ken has family here, cousin Leslie, her husband Jerry and Aunt Marilyn. So, we will have fun catching up with them. Karen is planning to come aboard on Sunday. $-0- spent this day.
March 18th, Wednesday, Left Panama City, Florida, west for Destin, Fl. Generator in a.m. was 1866.2. We were motoring out by 8:00 EDL time, 7:00 a.m. central daylight time. We had winds from the east, with trailing seas, and it was peaceful. Wind varied from 7-13 knots so again, we were a sailboat…yeah. We had dolphins everywhere around us all day. They were swimming along with us, jumping up out of the water so close to the boat, we didn’t know how they didn’t run into us. They came up, three to six, side by side…amazing. We took a video of their antics. We hung our sheets out to dry as we sailed, as the onboard drier takes so much power and the solar drier is free. As we neared Destin, we called two marinas for local knowledge about the inlet to Destin, where we planned to anchor. One local Captain said the channel was only 4-4.5’ and he wasn’t sure we could get in as we told him we draw 4.5’. So, alternate plan B, we just anchored off the beach near Ft. Walton though there were big swells. Luckily, through the night, the swells calmed and we slept great. The water was more clear here than anywhere we have ever been. Cindy could actually see the anchor when it went was going down. We called and said hello to Papa George this night. Hopefully we can see him when we come back East with Karen aboard. $ -0- spent this day.
March 17th, Tuesday, St. Pat’s Day, 2009. Left St. Andrew Point’s anchorage and headed to Panama City Beach. Generator a.m. 1864.5, port engine 1031.9, starboard engine 966.1. Miko was playing in the bed this morning and we forgot her, so due to our fault, she pee pee’d on the comforter. We stripped the bed, washed the spot off the comforter and mattress pad, and through the sheets in the washer. She never does bad things that aren’t typically our fault, and we set her up to fail this morning. The morning was wonderful as we finally had wind that allowed us to sail, strong and in the right direction. A sails were up by 9:00 a.m. We had almost forgotten how wonderful it was to have a full day of sailing. The skies were overcast and it was cooler as a front had come through. We heard on the Ireland based Today Show broadcast that the Obamas had the water in the White House fountains dyed green. Cool. We pulled in the nice inlet at Panama City and headed for the anchorage we thought we would try. Once there, the current was so strong it was moving us away from the buoy we were approaching. And, the distance between the sand shoal and the buoy was so skinny, Cindy couldn’t get happy with trying to go through. So, we aborted that approach, spun around and headed into the St. Andrew Sound, our second choice anchorage. We saw a Coast Guard helicopter doing training…..towing a boat from the air…interesting. They kept broadcasting warnings to stay 1,000 yards away…OK, no problem. The ride into the anchorage was beautiful and boarded by a state park with amazing sand dunes, Shell Beach. We dropped the dinghy, went to the north shore that showed a boat ramp. We tied off the dinghy and headed up the road to see the lay of the land. We found ourselves in a housing project with roads named Sabre, Thundershield, etc. It was then we realized we were probably in a military housing area. We went back to the dinghy and headed toward to a marina we saw further up the bay. Once there, we found a sign that said no entrance without the approval of the Tyndall base Commander. Ah, we were at Tyndall Airforce Base…that explained the fly boys zooming everywhere overhead! We went to the south side of the bay, and went ashore on the beach where we met a couple named Newt and Alice, from the other sailboat in the anchorage. They were there for the day with the grandchildren. They told us the police were having a fun time over at Panama City Beach…Spring Break! We walked Shell Beach and it was, basically un-inhabited with only a few folks sunning….and it was gorgeos. Miko was so happy to be able to run around at the end of her long leash. We put up the dinghy as we decided to head west in the A.M. This was one of the nicest inlets we had been through and Panama City is really a boating/fishing community…boats everywhere. $-0- spent this day.
March 16th, Monday, 2009 – Little St. George Island, offshore – When we got up this a.m. NO FOG!! Yeah. There was actually some sunshine and blue skies this day. Ken checked the port engine compartment, as he didn’t recall seeing the bilge pump come on once during the previous day’s trip. Thank goodness he thought about this. It is unusual not to hear the bilge pump come on when we are sailing. It caused Ken to suspect we may have a problem. He found about 5” of water in the engine compartment so we pumped it out with our handy PVC manual pump that really works great. Luckily, the engine started with no problem once the water was removed. Ken started trouble shooting to figure out why the bilge didn’t do its job. He found that the pump’s motor was working which was good news. It was not getting power for some reason and that was bad news. Cindy and Miko just chilled out and updated the log, while sipping fresh coffee from the French press as Ken did his work. Ah, yet another boat job…..it is always something. We aren’t sure how “not mechanical” types live this cruising lifestyle. Ken successfully direct wired the bilge, assuring Cindy it would be “100% safe”. So, by 9:20 a.m, the bilge pump was once again operational. Ken is so good at figuring these things out. Little St. George Island is uninhabited, not developed and bordered by sand dunes and a beautiful beach. It was a nice “back yard” view while anchored there for a night and morning. This day the plan was to continue west to Port St. Joe, Florida and their very protected bay. Storms were coming through in a cold front this day. So, we had two nice fresh water rinses of MTB, care of Mother Nature. We passed St. Vincent Island and Port St. Joe on our way west and saw many beautiful places. We decided since our winds were to be N and NE this evening, moderate as well, we wouldn’t take the time to go all the way into Port St. Joe. We just continued north to the coastline off of St. Andrew Point, south of Panamas City and anchored off there. This saved both time and diesel fuel. Ken transferred fuel from the front holding tanks to the back operating tanks this day. He also added some sail tape to a couple parts of the mainsail that were coming loose…a temporary fix until we could sew them. We motored once again this day and it was getting very tedious. We HATE to motor. But, with no wind and what there was on our nose…no other option. We pulled into the anchorage just as a squall was coming through, accompanied by playing dolphins. Cindy got a little wet putting down the anchor but we were safe and sound, anchored by 4:30 p.m. It rained until 5:30 p.m., no thunder, so very pleasant actually though it was much cooler after the front went through. We were once again anchored off some gorgeous sand dunes. Who knew this part of the gulf was so beautiful….ah, “The Forgotten Coast”…..we sure do like these forgotten places. Steaks on the grill this night, bought on sale at the IGA in Carabelle! We’re approaching the time change line, to Central Daylight time. So, soon we gain an hour as we keep going west. We could not believe we missed the shuttle launch on Sunday night…dang it. Even our friends Craig/Mary emailed to say they saw it where they were cruising in the southern most part of the Bahamas. Previous day, we didn’t have phone or WIFI connection. At least this evening, we had cell phone service and satellite TV so we were able to watch Dancing With The Stars, whoo whoo! Port engine hours starboard engine hours . $-0- spent this day.
March 15th, Sunday, 2009 – Departed Carabelle, Florida, heading west. Generator in the a.m. was 1,862.0, port engine pm reading was 1025.7 and starboard engine hours were 959.9. We got up, ready to go and couldn’t see squat….ding dang FOG yet another morning. So, we made a few phone calls, and watched the Sunday morning shows. The bay was very rough and it looked like rain. But the forecast was for good winds and only 2-4’ seas. So, we were itching to get going. So, about 11:45 a.m. we finally pulled up the very, very muddy anchor chain and anchor…had to wash it as it came up. Off we headed to the cut between Dog Island and St. George Island, back to the Gulf of Mexico. The cut was very rough and sadly, poor little Miko lost her breakfast, but she is a trouper and didn’t seem to mind, once Cindy cleaned up her crate. We turned west and ran all day along the coast of the beautiful St. George Island. Winds weren’t conducive to sailing….getting tired of all this motoring…almost time to transfer more fuel from front to back tanks. We rounded the end of St. George and threw our anchor out off the coast of Little St. George Island. It was very rocky, roll-y but doable. We had very entertaining dolphins circling the boat as we watched the sundown, and Cindy even saw a sea turtle. Leftover tuna casserole was heated up for dinner and we watched some TV, went to bed early. The anchorage was really loud and rocking, but anchor held fine. Cindy got up during the night to stop the canned softdrinks from crashing around and secured the flat screen tv, so it wouldn’t fall over. It was so loud in the berth Cindy decided to stay up and sleep in the salon. Then Miko started crying so, she got to sleep on the sofa all night with Mom…what a spoiled child. There was a shuttle launch this evening that Ken and Cindy BOTH forgot to go outside to watch. We are dummies sometimes!
March 14th, Saturday, ACC Tournament Day – Carabelle, Florida – When we got up it was overcast and the anchorage really rough with white caps, 13-14 knots of wind. In the morning, we did a little more research and found that the channel we had planned to take to access Apalachicola bay was really “iffie” at times. We were concerned as Friday we had heard a local shrimp boat was aground there. We figured if guys with local knowledge had trouble with it, it may not be something we wanted to try on our way up the coast. So, if we went north this day, we would only be able to anchor off the Gulf coast side shore of St. Vincent Island. And, the winds and seas forecasts were not conducive to that. We heard from Pappa George on Friday that he was leaning toward coming to see the Vixen RV on this morning. So, we called him to see if we might hook up with him. Nope, George decided the timing wasn’t good right now for them to try to buy an RV. So, remembering our invitation yesterday to attend the parade today, we decided we’d go into Carabelle for the festivities in the morning. Then we figured we’d head over and re-anchor off the north shore of St. George Island. Though it was choppy and looked as if it could rain, we decided we were going to the Camp Gordon Johnston memorial parade. We left MTB at 9:45 a.m. (this time with our 3 bags of garbage!!!) and up the river. It was turning into a really pretty morning, so we were happy with our decision to stay. We pulled into a municipal dock, dropped off our garbage in the dumpster, and tied up Toby. We walked up to the corner of Marine Street and Hwys 98/319 and found that folding chairs had been set out for parade watchers. We plopped ourselves down with the locals and Miko commenced meeting everyone there, even saw the mayor. At 10:45 a.m., a motorcycle group (Patriot Guard)
lined both sides of the street, stopped and got off their bikes. Each was handed a large American flag on a pole to hold at attention throughout the parade. There was the normal variety of parade stuff…kids, marching bands, old cars, Shriners in little vehicles, the beauty queen, fire trucks, police vehicles, and a few floats. It was truly neat to see the Veterans that had served at the old Camp walking or riding along the parade route. There was a float with so many Confederate Flags it was surprising. We saw that they were “Sons of Confederate Veterans” and promoting the preservation of their Florida heritage. The Boys & Girls Club, Florida Dept. Natural Resources, the Coast Guard, etc. all participated in the parade. Watching and taking photos at such a patriotic event was really nice and we were so pleased we chose to stay. We do love and appreciate this country. The newspaper (Forgotten Coast Line, www.forgottencoastline.com) took Miko’s picture and got all our information. The photographer/reporter said her editor loves dog pictures and Miko was the cutest of the day. So, maybe we’ll make the cut and be in the April issue. We walked back to the IGA, as Cindy forgot to buy coffee on Friday’s visit. After picking up a few things, we walked back to the dinghy, rode to MTB. The weather was beautiful and the bay was not as choppy so we had a much more pleasant ride back than what was expected. We decided to stay where we were for the rest of the day. It was about time to watch for the FSU vs. NC basketball game in the semifinals of the ACC Tournament. Tiger Woods was also back on tour and playing this day. It was good to watch him again. Miko was worn out and slept the afternoon away. $43.83 spent at IGA!
Friday the 13th, March, 2009 – Generator in the a.m. 1,858.0 - anchored off Holton Point, Carabelle, Florida – We hoped to catch up with “Papa George”, Ken’s step dad this day. He thought he may be coming to Carabelle to look at a Vixen RV for sale here (like ours) but it didn’t work out. So, when we are near Ft. Walton, we will try to rendezvous with him and Barbara in Destin. We planned to visit Carabelle anyway, so we just carried on, though disappointed we weren’t going to get to see him. In the morning, Ken jumped into the 68 degree water to check our props. The motors had a sudden, unexplained vibration once on Thursday when we were motoring here. We just wanted to verify that there wasn’t a crap pot rope or plastic bag or something else wrapped around either prop. All was well, so Ken’s polar bear dip gave us good peace of mind for our departure the next day. About 11:00 a.m. we piled into the dinghy for a visit to town. We motored up the river about 2 miles to the Moorings Marina. It was a great place. We put 2.5 gallons of gas in the dinghy and asked if there was a municipal dock we could tie the dinghy to so we could go explore the town and go grocery shopping. “Buddy” told us no, but directed us to a place in part of their private marina that he said would be a great place for us to tie up. He told us if anyone said anything to us, we just were to say that “Buddy said it was fine”. What a great guy…must be on the Chamber board! We decided to walk back into town, about a mile and then grocery shop on our return walk. Dummies we were this day, though, as we forgot to take our collected garbage in with us from MTB. So, we still have 3 full bags stashed in holds on MTB. Oh well… next town! We stopped in cute downtown combo business…grill, bakery, ice cream shop. Ken had a Cuban and Cindy a Reuben sandwich. Both were really good. We ate outside, as it was beautiful out and Miko “talked” to everyone. One gentleman invited us to the parade the next day to commemorate the Vets and an old base, Camp Gordon Johnston, that was here previously. There is a new museum honoring the WWII base and we read about German detainees that spent time at the Camp. The man we spoke with, wearing an Air Force veteran cap, said that there will even to be a fly over around 10:45 a.m. Saturday morning. There was to be a dinner, dance and other events throughout the weekend. Neat. He said if we couldn’t make this celebration, we needed to come back in April for their River Festival. Wow, how nice is that? While eating lunch, we noticed that most cars had FSU Seminole magnets or license plates…we forgot that this is Seminole Country being so near Tallahassee. We continued our walk down the waterfront and enjoyed the laid back little town. On the walk back, Cindy shopped at the IGA, stocked up on a few things while Ken stayed outside with Miko and met more locals! Cindy told the cashier that she had to carry things back to the marina so needed to double bag and consolidate some items. The cashier said “I don’t see any reason why you shouldn’t just take one of our carts, it would be fine”. Once again, such kindness displayed to us, strangers. Cindy knew she and Ken could just carry everything but thanked her for the nice offer. We headed up Highway 98 to the Marina and our dinghy when a guy in a golf cart stopped, and asked if we needed a ride. Ken said he’d just walk with Miko but told Cindy to take the offer for her and the groceries. Cindy was driven right to the dock steps…man that was service. Once we were all back aboard Toby, we enjoyed a really nice dinghy putt putt back to MTB. Miko just loves riding in the “little boat”…just as did Dempsey and Mac. She doesn’t like sandspurs though….as a few days before she got one in her paw, and now she has no more desire to walk in anything green…she’s too funny. Anyway, what a great day…we are so glad we have discovered this “Forgotten Coast”. It is fantastic, nice folks and beautiful beaches and scenery. We hope to come back by land in the future. As usual, Cindy picked up real estate guides to learn a little more about the surrounding area. Back on MTB, we were just in time to watch FSU beat Ga Tech in the ACC basketball tournament. It just doesn’t get better than this…sweet puppy laying beside us, Noles on TV, beautiful weather and idyllic scenery all around. $82.60 spent this day on lunch, groceries and dinghy gas.
March 12, 2009 Thursday, St. Teresa Beach, FL to Carabelle, Florida – The a.m. generator reading was 1,856.8. First thing in the morning we enjoyed our morning pancakes made by Chef Ken…yummy. We decided to pull up anchor at 10:00 a.m. and head for Carabelle, FL. It is a fishing village in this area of the Panhandle that is referred to as the “Forgotten Coast”. When we headed out, we only had 1.2 knots of wind…geez another day of motoring. We traveled in between the mainland and the north side of Dog Island, one of the beautiful barrier islands in this area. We admired the gorgeous sand dunes of Dog Island. Dog Island can only be reached by boat, or on the ferry that runs there daily. Today’s trip for MTB was only about 15 miles. So, when we got to the Carabelle area, we motored up the channel and into the river to visit the town of Carabelle, proper. We found a truly sleepy, quaint little fishing village. The entire river was lined with docks and fishing and shrimping boats. The Coast Guard had a nice complex with two vessels there as well. As we were going by, we saw two Coast Guard guys boarding the largest vessel. As they boarded they saluted…. but there wasn’t an officer or anyone else onboard…..just an American flag. They honored their country in this way, saluting their flag, as they were routinely going about their daily activities. It was impressive to see such a simple act of patriotism. As we motored further up the river, Cindy wasn’t comfortable with the few places there were to anchor MTB…too tight, too many boats, unknown bottom/holding and very shallow. So, after our little tour, we just pivoted around and went back out the river/channel, and off east of the entrance. The cool thing about twin engines (aka twin screws) is we can turn around in our own circumference. It really is pretty cool to see this wide ole thing spinning around to head the opposite direction. Our chart showed we were anchored off of “Holton Point” which had signage that it was 10 acres for sale. Everywhere we have been we have seen so much real estate for sale, truly sad. We hoped to meet Ken’s step dad, George, in Carabelle, weather permitting on Friday. Some reports said to expect scattered thunderstorms on Friday and Saturday. The anchorage got choppy through the afternoon as winds built from a southerly direction. Where we anchored would allow a relatively easy dinghy ride back into town. We hoped to dump our garbage somewhere and do a little grocery shopping. There was an IGA Grocery store in town in walking distance of the river docks. And, when riding through the town/river, we saw a municipal dock with a boat ramp and figured they would have a garbage can/dumpster… most do. We guess boaters need to empty their beer cans on coming back to shore! Well, it was ACC tournament day so once we anchored by 1:30 p.m., we turned on the TV to watch Clemson vs. Ga. Tech. Florida State was to play the winner of that game on Friday. We did some trip planning, itinerary research. And, we heard for the rental agency handling our rental house in Brunswick, and they rented it yesterday to a great tenant, yeah! Cindy called the insurance company to let them know. It is a challenge doing business long distance, but we do manage. We boxed up and brought home everyone’s leftovers from dinner the night before. So, we looked enjoyed seafood once again for dinner this night…yuuuummmmmyyyyy. $-0- spent this day.
March 11, 2009 Wednesday, St. Teresa Beach, FL. Early fog, but it cleared in the a.m. Generator a.m. 1855.5, port engine 1016.3 and s/b engine 950.6. We had a flat anchorage and the water was like glass. Kim called around 9:30 a.m. and said our new phone was dead, but they could re-activate our old one. So, that was good, at least we will have the same number for the rest of our trip. Ken was able to get WIFI and check emails in the morning using our new extended reach WIFI Radio Lab antenna…a good purchase just before leaving Sarasota. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky, nor a wisp of wind. We went to shore/beach and walked a long way with Miko. We stopped on the beach and ate the chicken leftovers from the previous night’s dinner. Miko played fetch and ran herself silly. She met a nice lab named “Seagram” on the beach. Ken’s family was coming down again this night from Tallahassee to bring our cell phone. The plan was for us all to go out to dinner, once we met up at the marina at 6:30 p.m. It was a lot to ask of the family to help us with our phone, making two trips down here. It was so wonderful for them to assist us so willingly, greatly appreciated! Thanks guys. Miko wasn’t acting quite her normal self this a.m. so we kept an eye on her. She ate fine, so may just be worn out from her big day finally going to shore on Tuesday. Or she could possible be dreaming of her doggy play buddies in Sarasota, Sonny or Bella. We got to the marina around 5:30 pm., just in time to see sister Karen pulling into the parking lot. She decided to leave work early and have a drink at the Marina Tiki bar with us before heading to “Angeloes” for dinner. What a nice surprise. Alligator Point Marina and harbor master, “Buddy” are hidden treasure. What a nice place and good people. We left the marina for the restaurant to join Karen’s daughter Sara Beth, and sister Kim/family for dinner. It was a really good seafood restaurant, overlooking the Ocklonee Bay, with a beautiful sunset right off from our table. We so enjoyed this time and also got back a working cell phone back…which was great. $185 spent this day.
March 10, 2009 Tuesday, Alligator Point, FL. $-0- spent this day. Had fog once again in the a.m. but it cleared and we enjoyed the view toward the beautiful shore. We had dolphins visit us as we prepared to jump on the dinghy to visit the beach to allow Miko to have a walk. When to shore, we found a drop off to deep water, making it difficult to land with the waves also pushing the dinghy all directions. So, Ken had Cindy and Miko jump off, hoping to throw a bow anchor off to assist in keeping the dinghy out of trouble. Unfortunately, a wave swamped the dinghy filling it with water. Sadly the cell phone and digital camera were in a keep dry sack that didn’t keep them dry when it was submerged. Cindy and Miko were able to jump back aboard. And, we headed back to MTB to sort things out. We knew we wouldn’t be able to land and leave the dinghy on this side of the island. We needed to be able to meet Ken’s family somewhere later in the day as they were coming down to visit us. We were able to call Brent in Tallahassee using the computer’s WIFI voice phone capability. It was decided we would move around to another anchorage to allow us more easy dinghy access into a marina on the back side of Alligator Point. So, about 3 pm, we were anchor up and motoring back out about 6 miles, to miss a large shoal that blocked our path to the direction we needed to go. So by 4:45 p.m, we were anchored once again, just off the shore of St. Teresa beach. We immediately jumped in the dinghy with Miko, and headed to the Alligator Point Marina. We arrived around 5:30 p.m. and found that they closed at 5:00 p.m. So, we tied up in an empty slip and went out front to the roadside of the marina. We found a great tiki bar type patio to spend time waiting for Ken’s family. There was a fresh water faucet for Miko and an open, clean restroom. We walked across the road to the Gulf side beach but found it strewn with very large jellyfish. We went back to the marina and met a local named Robert, very nice, and his lab “Rudy”, so sweet. He invited us to use the beach at his house anytime. Miko enjoyed playing with Rudy while we chatted. He was really nice. Karen and Kim, Ken’s sisters, arrived from Tallahassee with fried chicken dinners for us at around 6:30 p.m. We so enjoyed their visit. When they were leaving, we gave them our dead cell phone as well as our old one. They left Karen’s cell phone with us so we had a way to communicate with them. The plan was that one of them would visit AT&T in Tallahassee on Wednesday, coming back here in the p.m. While eating, the dock master came by and was so very hospitable…not minding us being on their patio or using their facilities. We all parted about 7:30 p.m. We were back to MTB by 8:00 p.m. $ -0- spent this day.
March 09, 2009 Monday, man does the time ever fly….departed Steinhatchee, Fl coastline area, once again heading north. A.m. generator reading was 1,854.4. Good weather was to stay with us through the week, but we were anxious to get to places where we could routinely get to shore. We have been so surprised how shallow the coastline is in this part of the Gulf of Mexico. It is always fun to learn these new places, where we can and can not go, etc. But, we need to get Miko some “land” time. As it was, everyone had been aboard without going ashore since earlier in the week. So, off we go anchors up early, and by around 8:15 a.m even the sails where up. Yeah! 8 knots as we left…this is great….But, hen 2 knots shortly thereafter, this is a bummer. Ok, so we dropped the sails and motored. So what will we have to deal with next?! Well, next in came the fog, yep, fog. We couldn’t see 2 boat lengths in front of us. So, what else could we do but stand watch, both Ken and Cindy, the entire day. Ah Ha.. 1:00 p.m….the fog has started clearing, so Cindy made salads & pb&js for lunch. Just a moment’s respite though, as the fog came socking us in again. All stinking day, we had fog. After 34 miles of it, we pulled into our selected anchorage (Alligator Point, in the Panhandle, near Carrabelle, FL..) at around 3:30 p.m., only ¼ mile off shore…..ah, but we can’t see the shore. Our GPS does indeed assure us it is there. We can’t imagine sailing in the old days….would have bumped right into the land if we didn’t have these charts we sail by. Making things worse, we had no protection from SW winds…which were building, now about 10 knots, of course, from the SW. And, no they didn’t forecast SW winds for this day. Geez, we were so sorry for Miko, as we broke yet another promise to get her to shore this day. Who would ever have guessed we’d have an all day, thick, soupy fog that wouldn’t even let us dinghy (Toby was down and ready) to shore (that we really believed was out there). Only one good thing all day was a dolphin that greeted us as we pulled into the cove we decided to call home for the night. This just was not our idea of a fun day. But, we deal with what we are given in the safest manner we can. Hey, beats being at work, all to heck! $ -0- spent this day.
March 8, 2009, Sunday, departed Suwanee River area, north another day. Generator a.m.1852.0, p.m. port engine1007.6 and p.m. s/b 942.0. This day, once again, the winds were very light. So, we just cruised slowly along, enjoying the peaceful slushy sound of MTB cutting through the Gulf waters. Along the way, at two different times, we saw large sea turtles. These sightings are always a really fun diversion in the day. But, after many digital photo attempts, we find them impossible to capture in a decent, discernible picture…same as with dolphins. The winds and seas were slight once again this day so forward progress was at around 2 knots for most the day. Later in the afternoon, when the wind totally died, the engines were fired up…..bummer, we hate the noise and burning fuel. But, we wanted to get to a spot to anchor that was not too deep…so going in toward shore some got us into more shallow seas. Ken and Cindy both finished books this day, as there was nothing much more to do except read and play with Miko. We had more daylight so we were able to sail/motor until 6:45 p.m. We chose a spot in about 25’ for water off the shore at the entrance to Steinhatchee, Florida. Anchor went down, dinner cooked and the TV satellite was tuned in. $ -0- spent this day.
March 7, 2009, Saturday, departed Cedar Key, Fl around 8:45 a.m. with a dolphin escorting us out. We turned north heading to what is called the “Lonesome Coast” or also called , “Forgotten Coast” of Florida. During the calm sail north, Ken worked on cleaning the plugged (with sea vegetation) parts of the generator that caused it to overheat….success. We stayed off the coast a number of miles, as in close to shore it is very shallow. Anchor was down about 5:30 p.m. off the inlet to the Suwanee River. There was little wind this day so we only made it about 23 miles. We did dinner and watched a bit of TV, being glad that the generator was once again working. This was the night to change to daylight saving time. We went to bed early and hoped no one bumped into us during the night and no pirates showed up. We were really out here by ourselves. $ -0- spent this day.
March 6, 2009 Friday, departed the middle of the Gulf, off Weekiwachee, Florida and headed for Cedar Key, Florida. Our sails were up at 8:20 a.m. and we were optimistic that the winds would build as forecast by NOAA. We needed to make about 38 miles this day as we wanted to be able to drop the dinghy to allow Miko to get to shore and have a walk on land this day. She has been so terribly good and she deserves a walk on shore. The morning started out with low winds, mild seas and a million crab pots. Looming in the distance was the huge Crystal River nuclear power plant…it is visible for miles and quite the eyesore. We just finally gave up on sailing and putted to the entrance of the channel heading into the Cedar Key areas. We arrived around 4 o’clock and immediately dropped the dinghy. Miko was so excited to see the little boat down…she already knows that means “shore”. At once, we motored to the little island we anchored near, Seahorse Island. It had a beautiful beach and we were so excited for Miko. Unfortunately, when we arrived along the shore, there were signs posted all along stating that the island was closed from March 1 to June due to bird nesting. This was a real bummer. So, all we could do was turn around and head back to MTB. Miko cried out, literally, on the way back to the boat. She gets so excited when we put her in the dinghy, she knows she is going to go have fun. We were broken hearted, as we had motored extra fast to get here in time to have good daylight time on the beach. Back at the boat, we ran Miko all around, playing chase and keep away to help burn some of her energy. We cooked dinner and that helped our mood….sirloin steak and sweet potatoes on the grill, yummy. The generator wasn’t working, as it had flipped off Thursday when it overheated. Ken thought the strainer might be clogged so he cleaned it out when we arrived today. But, when we fired it up this evening, no water was cycling through so may be a clog in another place….a project for the next day. This was a satellite lift off night at Cape Kennedy, so about 10:45 p.m. we went outside to see what we might see. We were lucky to see the launch, a brilliant yellow light rising to our east. It first looked like an anchor light atop a mast coming toward us and Cindy asked what the light coming toward us might be. Then Ken said, “that’s the launch”…..well, duh. To be able to see this launch was really pretty cool as it was the second space launch we had seen on this trip. Though the nearby island was off limits, this anchorage was beautiful and teaming with dolphins. An entire pod welcomed us to the area on our approach. While we were out watching for the launch, they were all around, playing and splashing. It was pretty fun to hear. Guess dolphins don’t sleep. We watched the news, and off to bed. $-0- spent this day.
March 5, 2009 Thursday, departed Caledesi Island, Florida around 9:00 a.m. We didn’t get moving too quickly this a.m. as it was COLD. And once again, we dodged crab pots, and didn’t have enough wind to sail most of the day. Regardless of al this, we had a nice day even considering we were going NORTH! Oh well. We anchored this evening in one of the weirdest places since we started cruising. We anchored off near the entrance to the river leading into Weekiwachee, Florida. The weirdness was that the Gulf is so shallow on this part of the coast…we were 9 miles offshore, in 8 feet of water. Very strange to us to barely be able to see lights on shore, being so far away, yet at anchor. We held great in this anchorage, enjoyed a dinner of chicken ala king over Publix bakery dinner rolls and watched American Idol’s wild card selection show. We spoke to Cindy’s Mom this p.m. and it was so nice to catch up with her. We miss her and she is missing us (ah, Miko, really). We gave Miko hugs and kisses from her! $-0- spent this day.
March 4, 2009 Wednesday, departed Pinellas Point, Fl for points north. First thing this morning, before we left the protected cove we had been anchored in, we had to do a calibration maneuver. The GPS, compass and chart plotter compass weren’t in “sinc”. So, one must ride in circles at 3 knots until things beep and displays appear on the instruments…..weird, but somehow it all works. After the weirdo antics, the regular compass closely matched what each of the other indicators read. Now we were in “sinc” and that was a good thing. We headed back to the channel that lead out of the anchorage and turned toward the Sunshine Skyway channel, toward the Gulf of Mexico, leaving Tampa Bay. We were about to head for the bridge when we saw a huge container ship heading toward us from west to east from the Gulf. So, we just pulled back on our speed and let him come through. We wanted the entire middle of the channel to ourselves when heading under the bridge. Once through, we set out sails and turned north. Things were good for awhile, sailing, which we love. But, the wind turned and was directly on our nose. We finally gave up and motored. Then, the fun began….those dang crab pots that we had to dodge once again. We made it to Caledesi Island, just north of Clearwater/Dunedin. This wasn’t as far as we’d hoped, but an ok day. We anchored offshore of a State Park and had a nice view of a sandy beach. We made breakfast for dinner and it hit the spot….eggs, sausage and hashbrowns, YUM. Of course, had to watch another episode of American Idol, then bundled up and crawled in bed…bbbbrrr. We’re wondering if we’re just nuts. All our friends are in the Bahamas, warm, sunny. We are dodging crab pots and cold fronts, shivering. Something is just messed up about this!
March 3, 2009 Tuesday, Pinellas Point, Florida at anchor. Had a nice lazy day and did a few boat jobs this day. The electric toilet in our head wasn’t working properly, so Ken tore it apart and on re-assembly, it worked. The SSB radio hadn’t been working and Ken troubleshot that as well. The fuse wasn’t blown, but on removing and replacing it, the radio worked again, which was great. We went to shore and walked to the park to the west of the Interstate, Maximo Park. They had a really busy disc golf course and lots of people playing. We walked along the little beach in the park, and Miko played with several puppies. This was good as she got so spoiled at the Sarasota Marina Jack due to the hundreds of dogs in the park that she met during our stay there. We visited O’Reilly Marina, bought ice creams and found out that there was a pizza place in Pinellas Point. We walked several more miles, to where we were told to find the pizza joint. Well, it was a strip mall complete with Chinese, pizza, and other fast food. There also was a Beall’s store. They had a sale rack out front with a bamboo framed print of a flamingo, palm trees and “another day in paradise”. It was seventy percent off and take another fifty percent off….so the wall hanging that was $34.99, become $5. Of course, we bought if for the boat. We had wanton soup and egg rolls with Miko sitting on an outside bench. Then into Publix to pick up a few things…cucumber, coffee, yogurt, etc. $23 spent. We walked back to the Holiday Inn, to the dinghy, back to MTB. We made quesadillas for dinner, put up the dinghy, anticipating our departure on Wednesday. We watch America Idol, saw FSU almost beat Duke in basketball, then went to bed. We wrapped Miko in a blanket in her crate as it was to be very cold this night. It was 51 degrees in the salon when we went down to our berth for bed. BBBRRR.
March 2, 2009 Monday, Pinellas Point, Florida at anchor. Finally the cold front passed through and the waters calmed enough to drop the dinghy and head to shore. We traveled to shore with the little girl (Miko, of course), tied up at a marina attached to the local Holiday Inn. It said to check in with the Dockmaster….but their door was locked. So, we took that as permission to keep our dinghy tied up there. We headed into Pinellas Point proper…..walking along the south east shore neighborhoods. This seemed to be a very culturally diverse, but really nice area. We walked around one canal front home that we subsequently looked up on the internet, $555,555, ah nice round number price tag, huh? Of course before Florida properties devalued so much, this home would have been $800k to $1 mil. Anything with a dock was in that price rage. We walked a long way, about a 2 hour walk. Then, back to the boat with a pooped pup. We decided to stay on Tuesday as the seas in the Gulf were still expected to be 3-5 feet on Tuesday. So, we cooked quesadillas for dinner and didn’t put up the dinghy.
WOW how did it get to be MARCH, 1, 2009 already….?, Sunday, Pinellas Point, Florida, at anchor, NE end of the Sunshine Skyway. The winds did not switch around in the night from S to SW as was forecast for 3:00 a.m., so the anchorage was really bumpy, but we slept fine. We anchored here based on our expectation of a SW wind sooner, rather than later. But, the front finally came through with clocking winds about 8:00 a.m. this morning. The wind switched to SW as the beginning of the front passed and the anchorage smoothed out like we had planned. It was nice to have gusting 30 knot winds with relatively smooth water in the cove around us. We watched the Weather Channel and it showed that there was still a tail end “blob” of the passing cold front that would be coming through. But, winds clocking from SW, W, NW, or N would be comfortable vs. the previous night. We selected the anchorage for protection from those directions. We knew we would be kept aboard for the whole day and probably Monday as well due to the high winds. Once during the morning, we took Miko out on the front trampoline when she scratched at the door during the high winds. If she tells us she has to go out, we take her. Poor little thing, as she pee pee’d, the yellow stream was blown forward onto her front paws. She is such a clean animal, catlike really, she really didn’t like what was happening. But, when you have to go, you have to go. She is a good and adaptive little thing….just hung in there and curled up on the sofa for the morning. So, it was a good day for nothing more than watching tv, typing logs, doing emails and eating. Ken made chocolate chip cookies before lunch. It was a spaghetti with meat sauce kind of day for dinner. The macerator in our electric toilet (the thing that eats up stuff) quit working, so that was the boat job for the day…yep, a really shi_ ty one. The temperature started dropping behind the passing cold front so by 9:00 a.m. the salon was cooler. By noon, it was 68 degrees in the salon and we expected it to be cold this night. But, the cove was calm, the winds diminishing and the skies were trying to get more blue. $-0- spent this day.
February 28th, 2009, Saturday Apollo Beach, to Pinellas Point, Florida. The water around us was smooth this a.m. so we did coffee early and dropped the dinghy. By 8:30 a.m. we were headed to the entrance channel that lead into the canal subdivision of Apollo Beach. It was a beautiful morning and our little putt putt around the canals of the area was most informative. We spoke with some locals both on shore and a guy in a fishing boat. They told us about the depths of the canals. Florida Power and Light has an ugly plant with big smoke stacks just north of the subdivision, but we found that it was not visible from some streets/canals. The marina verified that the entrance channel was deep enough for MTB. Interesting. So, we may have to look around one day when we come back to the area, by land yacht, the RV! Miko got to go ashore and dodge sandspurs. She sure doesn’t like those things getting in her feet. But, she does like riding in the dinghy. We were back to MTB by around 10 am and had the dinghy/anchor up by 10:30 a.m. The decision for the day was to head back to the safest anchorage we could find, closest to the entrance of Tampa Bay. A very bad cold front was to come through the area Saturday after midnight bringing high winds and thunderstorms. So, we needed protection from S to SW winds on Saturday, and gale force NW to N winds expected on Sunday a.m. Yuck. We decided on Pinellas Point, a little cove area at the very north end of the Skyway Bridge, on the eastern side. We sailed awhile and were enjoying the peace and quiet of the ride, until the winds clocked around and were directly on our nose. No sailing after that so we just fired up both engines and motored to our selected location. The anchor was down by about 2:00 p.m. The wind was building and were around 18 knots as we traveled west through Tampa Bay. Though a little rough in the afternoon, we felt we would be well protected in our spot, once the wind shifted to SW, W, NW and N through the next two days. Sunday was forecasted to have wind and rain all day and to be COLD. Seas were expected to be 5-8 feet in the Gulf even by Monday, so we knew we would be hunkered down for several days. When traveling to new locations never before visited, all you can do is hope your judgement is sound when deciding where to anchor. You hope that the bottom holding is good and the winds react as expected. You just wait and see what Mother Nature throws your way when you are in these situations. After this cold front passes, the weather was to be nice for a few days. We hoped that would allow us to get north, to the protection of the Panhandle area of Florida. $-0- spent this day.
February 27th, Friday, 2009, departed Anna Maria Island for Apollo Beach in Tampa Bay. Anchor was up this day around 8:30 a.m. and off we went. A short while into our sail, we approached a Coast Guard helicopter hovering over a vessel. We were in shallow water and were trying to steer starboard slowly so not to run aground. The copter called us on the VHF radio, told us they were doing training maneuvers, and to stay away. We assured them we were trying to do so, but we couldn’t go too far starboard too fast. But, all was fine. Once we rounded the end of Anna Maria, south of Egmont Island, we saw the “Sunshine Skyway” bridge in front of us. By now winds were not conducive to sailing so we dropped the sails and began motoring. Though the cruising guide said the bridge height was 99’, it sure gives you pause as you approach it and are looking up. There is an optical illusion that makes you feel for sure that the mast is going to pow right into the structure. Our mast is 65’ with wind instruments on top of it. But, there is no way are we are even near 99’. Yes, your head knows this as you approach a bridge once that you have veified its height. But man, you hold your breath until you get through. Once into Tampa Bay, we took our time to check out the area, arriving off the coast of Apollo Beach around 3:30 p.m. We hoped to take the dinghy in to check out the canals and homes in this area. A realtor had told us about some really good deals on homes with pools and docks that would accommodate MTB. When we bought our boat, everything in three states with a deep water dock AND a house was a million dollars. The realtor told us about a couple houses in the $240-300k range that he thought were on good water. He said this waterfront market/area was depressed. So, we wanted to see what was what. We figured if it sounded too good to be true, it had to be too good to be true. But, the seas were a little rough and we decided not to drop the dinghy. We had a homemade pizza for dinner, did the normal evening routine and had a great night sleep as the anchorage had really calmed after dark.
February 26th, 2009 departed Sarasota, Marina Jack, Bayfront Municipal Park. Yes, Meant To Be finally left the dock. After arriving in Sarasota on 12-17-08, we had a wonderful stay in this beautiful park location. It is bitter sweet, our leaving. We experienced much fun, and also experienced much sadness during our visit here. In the early hours of February 12, 2009, Cindy’s beloved Dad, Al, passed away in his sleep after a valiant battle with the horrific malady, Alzheimer’s. He loved us all so specially, showing daily what a “good man” truly epitomizes. He and Cindy’s Mom, Vivian, shared a marriage that was one of those amazing love stories that all of us wish for our relationship. Each year on HIS birthday, Dad bought Mom a gift. And, each year on her combination birthday & anniversary, he went to the same downtown jewelry store and bought her a special piece. They never spent a night apart until Dad’s illness. They took very good care of each other until Dad was no longer able to reciprocate. When he could no longer be cared for at home, Mom continued to assure that he only received the best of care. She went to the nursing home “Harmony” every single day during his stay there. She took home his clothes so she knew they were properly laundered, ironed. She took him a snack of a fresh banana or a goody each day. His room always had something seasonal or meaningful….a Notre Dame blanket on the bed during football season, NASCAR memorabilia once race car season began and a singing Flamingo Santa at Christmas. The staff at Harmony has seen many couples in the home and know how most interact. They often commented that they knew Mom and Dad’s relationship was special and their love was deep. One nurse knick named Dad “The Big Guy”. He was a gentle and kind man, even through his battle with this terrible illness. He never showed the aggression or anger that some Alzheimers patients exhibit. Though his passing brought sadness to our trip, there were also so many wonderful times during our visit. We were able to reconnect with Cindy’s Mom, brother Bruce, sister Nancy and their children/families, Brad and Michele and it was great. There were so many good times and we have great memories….visits to the ice cream shop (Big Olaf’s), late evening runs to Troyer’s bakery and a great day trip to “camp” to ride four wheelers and various other vehicles through mud bogs. Even the times when we just sat around and watched TV together felt special, just being together meant so much. So, this day was a bittersweet day. We pulled away at 10:00 a.m. moved over to the diesel dock, filled up, settled our bill and by noon, were headed north. We actually had a nice easy, short sail this day. We anchored off of Anna Maria Island as the weather was settled and we knew it would allow and easy start the next day. Yes, it was a bittersweet day.
February 24/25th, 2009 Sarasota, Florida docked at Marina Jack. Friends Skip, Carol and Marie Armstrong arrived and spent the night aboard with us. It was so great to reconnect with these special Greenville, SC friends….a very nice visit. We just wished we were able to spend more time together. THANKS guys for coming down to see us! It really meant a lot.
January 16th, Friday to Sunday January 18th, 2009 - Cindy's (step) sister, Rebecca and her husband Dennis arrived for a visit. It was great to catch up and good for Rebecca to spend time with her Dad (Cindy's step dad, Al Alviani). Though Al is reallly their "step" Dad, both Cindy and her brother Bruce feel he is their true "Dad".
December 19th, 2008 to February 23rd, 2009 – We enjoyed a wonderful time in slip A-64 docked at the beautiful municipal park along the Sarasota bay front. We had family and friends stay aboard. We met a bunch of nice local folks. Miko made many puppy friends and played hard every day. She would cry when one of her special puppy buddies came by. Her best buds were Sonny, a Spanish Water Dog and Bella, a sweet Puggle. Of course, we enjoyed making friends with the parents of the dogs that came by. Sonny’s dad Jose’ and Bella’s dad, Toby were great people who’s company we enjoyed. Toby and Bella brought Miko a get well toy when Miko was spayed in January. There were so many nice folks. Joe Peters took pictures of us, the boat and Miko and shared them with us via emails. He also gave us a beautiful framed picture he took of Ken and Cindy in front of MTB. What a nice thing. There were KC and Barb Aly from Iowa who were starting their research about catamaran living/cruising. And, best of all was being able to spend so much time with Cindy’s family. We had much happiness and much sadness during this time but it was all good. To be able to have such a prolonged visit after so many years of living out of state was a special thing. Were were so very glad that we chose to come to Sarasota this cruising season to spend time with the family. The timing was perfect and it meant so very much to all of us, Miko, too.
December 18th, Thursday, 2008 – The marina had a slip for us this a.m. and we decided to move to the dock near “slack” tide (between high and low) to make docking as easy as possible. By noon, we were safe and sound, tied up to the dock with the electricity plugged and all the water we care to use. Yeah, that will be nice.
December 17th, Wednesday, 2008 departed Venice Inlet, Fl area headed to Sarasota. We wanted to arrive on a rising tide to be able to have as much water as possible under us as we entered Big Pass, the cut to Sarasota Bay. So, we left about 9:30 and had to motor as there was NO wind. We were going 2 knots per hour…really flying! Cindy spent the morning finishing up the pet netting all along the life lines of the boat. This involved tightening and cutting off the ends of a zillion zip ties. Off of Siesta Key’s public beach, Bruce motored out in his boat and met us. It was so great to see him coming toward us…what a nice thing. It meant so much for him to help us in this way. The buoys that mark the channel were actually being moved by the Corps or someone as Bruce came out. It was nice to have his local knowledge as this could have been confusing. We never saw anything less than 3’ of water under us. Marina Jack couldn’t accommodate us with a day early so we decided just to anchor off the Sarasota bayfront for the evening. We were anchored by 3:30 p.m. Later, we dinghied to the waterfront restaurant, O’leary’s Tiki Bar and tied up our little craft. Bruce came and picked us up and we were able to go have dinner with he and Nancy and then to go see Mom and Dad at the nursing home “Harmony”. was Generator in p.m. 1837.7. December 16th, Tuesday, 2008. Departed from Little Gasparilla Island, Fl at 7:45 a.m. with sails up at 8:00 a.m. There were crab pots EVERYWHERE, awful. We were only going 2 knots, but what the heck, we didn’t have to be anywhere until 12/18/08. We washed dishes, had 6 fishing boats out around us, and we guessed they were all out checking on their crab pots. Man, we hate those things. No matter how hard we watched and tried to steer away from them, we hooked crab pots during this day. Before we could start our engines to motor toward shore to anchor, we had to try to cut the pot lines to free them from our shafts. Bummer. Luckily, Ken was able to get the starboard side free using our boat hook. We were able to go toward shore and selected a spot, just north of the Venice Inlet. Once anchored near shore, Ken unfortunately had to dive into the cold water to cut pot lines off both props. We stayed aboard this p.m. $-0- spent, generator a.m. 1836.8, port engine p.m. 974.2, s/b 908.0.
December 15th, Monday, 2008 departed Sanibel Island, Florida headed for Gasparilla Island, Florida. Since we were just anchored off Sanibel, with no channel to maneuver through, so the time from our departure to “sails up” was quick. We had flat seas, no wind but it was very nice and Miko was out with us in the cockpit on her tether. The crab pot owners were out checking their traps and their diesel engines were very noisy, across the calm waters. We saw a dolphin and that always makes us smile. Off Captiva Island, we saw a lot of birds fishing. Each Pelican had a Seagull buddy, waiting for the dregs, castoffs from the Pelicans. By 10:00 a.m., we had 4.5 knots of wind…ah, the doldrums. Cindy cleaned the shells we picked up on Sanibel Island, Ken read as Miko slept. Miko saw a dog on shore in the morning…couldn’t understand why we sailed away without letting her go play with him. We made it to our intended stop, Little Gasparilla Island only to find millions of crab pots….bummer. These pots blocked us from getting tucked in near shore, so we picked a tiny hole in between pots offshore in about 15 feet of water. We tried to set the anchor and had two failed attempts to “hook”. Since it was getting late, we knew we just had to make this work as we had no other place to go. Luckily on the third try, our anchor dug in and we let out more chain than we ever have, 150 feet…just to be safe. It was calm winds and seas so weren’t too worried. We went out front with Miko, sitting out on the trampolines with a glass of wine to watch the sunset. It was peaceful and nice after a little stress trying to get anchored among all the ding dang crabpots. Happily, Miko did great this day, with no upset tummy. We have learned not to feed her first thing in the morning before sailing. She is fine once we get into the routine of the day and eating lunch seems to be better for her. Cindy’s brother Bruce called and said he will launch his boat and lead us into the squirrely “Big Pass” channel that leads into to Sarasota Bay on our arrival on the 17th. This was really good news, as the channel is known for different situations due to daily shoaling. We did crossword puzzles, ate dinner and went to bed early. We did 29 nautical miles this day. $-0- spent, a.m. generator reading 1835.1, port engine p.m. 972.3 and s/b 902.5.
December 14th, Sunday, 2008 depart Marco Island anchorage, arrived Sanibel Island, Florida. In the a.m., Ken transferred fuel from the front tanks to the back main tanks. The bottom was so muddy we had to wash the entire chain and anchor as it came up. Winds were 10 knots, seas were calm. It is amazing how quickly things change. Our sails were up in the gulf by 8:30 a.m. and we arrived at Sanibel Island at 3:30 p.m. We just anchored offshore, having the dinghy in the water by 4:15 p.m. Miko loves to see the dink go in the water as she knows it means a trip ashore. OMG…the shells…mountains (literally) of 300 varieties. We had a nice shelling experience, went back to MTB for sundowner, blew the conch shell horn, as a bunch of tourists arrived on the beach to watch the sundown as well. Chef salads for dinner and donuts for dessert. We had a bright, bright moon and a slight rocking in the anchorage. Again this day we had to dodge crab pots, yuck. But, we did see some dolphins so that provides balance in our day! $-0- spent, generator in the a.m. 1829.4.
December 13th, Saturday, 2008, Marco Island, Factory Bay anchorage. Finally we had a great night’s sleep, in our bed. We got up around 7 and it was cold in the salon, about 54 degrees. We took hot showers this day and dropped the dinghy. By 11:30 a.m. it was warmer and calmer in the bay, so we headed into shore and the local marina. They charged a fee to land our dinghy but that was ok, they had a nice place and good ship’s store. We walked to a shopping area and met a nice lady who fell in love with Miko. She had recently lost her white German Shepherd and was missing her beloved companion. She didn’t want another big dog. When she saw Miko, our pup reminded her of her Shepherd, in miniature. She took pictures and asked a million questions. After an hour with her, she announced to everyone around that she had found her next puppy. It was really nice….I wasn’t sure we were going to get Miko away! Miko met everyone in Marco Island, we think…she was adored and spoiled. It was a great socialization trip for her. At the grocery store, we bough some lettuce, apples, donuts, bread…yeah. Along our way, we stopped for ice cream and also bought some ribs at a barbeque restaurant. Back on MTB, Miko was pooped, ribs were yummy but no football this Saturday, as the season had ended….L. We put the dinghy up as there were east winds that should calm the gulf seas and allow us to move up to Captiva. $61 spent, generator a.m. 1828.4.
December 12, Friday, 2008, Marco Island, Florida. What a night it was, but at least our anchor held and we didn’t drag onto shore. Although, we were being pushed toward some rocks on shore and the tide was so low, that we started touching bottom. Cindy went out and pulled us out deeper by pulling in about 50 feet of anchor chain. We did breakfast, pulled up anchor and MOVED! When Cindy went out to start pulling up the anchor, it started pouring, but that was ok as we knew we had to get out of there. We knew that inland there was a bay called Factory Bay so we decided to go there and see if there was a place to anchor. It was a short trip and in the bay it was wide open, no other boats anchored. We picked a good spot out of the channel beyond the Marina. We decided that even if we weren’t supposed to be anchored there, we were going to impose the “any port in a storm” rule. The winds were still high and even in this protected bay, it was too choppy to drop the dinghy to go to shore. Poor Miko, now she wasn’t even going to get her promised walk on land. She is a trouper though and didn’t seem to mind. She just loves being with her folks. $-0- spent, generator a.m. 1825.6, Port engine 968.9, s/b engine 900.4.
December 11, Thursday, 2008, departed Everglades City, Indian Key Channel, though we knew a bad cold front was coming. Based on the timing of the front, we felt we had time to make a run for Marco Island, to get into a more protected anchorage. We hoped that we would just encounter some showers before our arrival at Marco Island, or if lucky, Naples. By 8:30 a.m. we were out of the channel with sails up and could see the storm coming toward us. After sailing for a few hours with the sails both reefed (not out completely, smaller so not so fast) we got hit. The highest wind reading we saw was 31.5 knots and seas grew to 8-10 feet. We had crab pots all around us every where and rain, rain, rain. So, visibility made our trying not to wrap a crab pot rope around our props quite a challenge. Sadly, Miko got sick to her stomach in her crate. The vessel and the crew were handling everything ok, but just felt so bad that Miko had thrown up. Out in the middle of nowhere amid all the craziness, 4 dolphins jumped straight up out of the water as if trying to cheer us up.…it was a nice diversion from our situation. It was getting cold, the weather was going to get worse before it got better, so we decided to drop the sails and motor to Marco Island, the nearest inlet and good anchorage we could access. So, around 2:00 p.m. we thankfully entered the entrance channel and once we got nearer to shore, the seas calmed and the wind/rain lessened. This allowed an easier time to get in and anchored behind Coconut Island, a recommended anchorage along the shore. By 2:55 a.m. we were in a calm spot, warm, dry and checking for wifi sites. Miko began perking up which sure made Ken and Cindy feel better. We had dolphins all around us, everywhere. But, the best treat was seeing a baby dolphin with her mother. The little one’s tiny tail popped out of the water next to mama’s big one….how cute. One of the neatest things we have ever seen and it really made the whole day totally worthwhile. Finally, it was peaceful and calm. OMG….it all changed as dark came over us so did the thunderstorm and serious waves. MTB tossed back and forth more than we had ever experienced. At low tide, when we came in, we were fine. But, when the tide came up, the low lying Coconut Island disappeared and offered no protection from the building waves that began throwing us up and down. We didn’t sleep this night through, just laid up in the salon, to be close to the instruments/door in case we drug in the night. $-0- spent this day. Generator in the a.m. 1875.6, port engine 968.1, S/B engine 899.8.
December 10th, Wednesday, departed N.W. Cape Sable Florida for The Ten Thousand Islands, Everglades City, Florida area. Generator hours in the a.m. were 1823.2. Our anchor was up at 7:45 a.m. and sails up by 8:00. This was another good sailing day. We had trailing seas, meaning the waves were behind us, pushing. So, we get help in our forward motion, as well as a nicer, smoother ride. The wind was S to SE most of the day, 10-15 knots. We stayed inside the Everglades Park water boundary markers along the shoreline, so that allowed us not to have to watch for crab pots all day….hate those pots. So, this was a relief and was so nice. We hoped we had come far enough north to get out of the pot fields as we will be beyond the park boundaries on our next leg. Cindy cleaned and dried the shells picked up in Cape Sable during our two night stay there. What a beautiful shoreline we found and enjoyed. During the night, the view out our berth’s portlights (tiny windows in bedroom!) was spectacular due to stars, clear sky and no ambient light…wonderful. The moon was so bright, it seemed we had a streetlight above us. Throughout this entire day of sailing we did not encounter another boat until we arrived at the channel entrance we had selected to enter to find an anchorage. It is so hard to believe you can find places where you can be so completely alone in this day and age. It is amazing and so terribly peaceful. We expected a cold front and bad weather to come through this night, Thursday and possibly Friday. The worst storms were forecast to be above Tampa…so we just hoped that held true, as reports mentioned 40+ knot winds. We really never want to be anchored out and unprotected somewhere in winds that high. We have been out in around 30+ and our vessel did fine. Just always like to be safe, sound somewhere in those type of high winds. Our hope was to move north on Thursday, to either Marco Island or Naples but any anticipated move was weather dependent. Forecasts indicated a good chance of thunderstorms, etc. We pulled into the Indian Key River channel this afternoon around 4:00 p.m. and we chose an area to anchor, off an island of mangroves. On the way in, there was an area that was inhabited by hundreds of white pelicans. They were beautiful. Our anchor was down by 4:30 p.m. and we researched anchorages in Marco Island and Naples for our next stop. This day we came approximately 42-45 nautical miles and it was an easy nice day. There was nothing noteworthy this day except a visit from one dolphin and the pristine scenery along the shoreline. Once we were anchored, Miko was set free and she entertained us, as usual. She is such a cutie patootie. When you look at her, you can’t help but smile. She actually seems to have a smile on her face as well. Though not another human around, we blew the conch horn at sundown. Port engine hours today 964.5 and starboard 896.2 and $-0- spent.
December 9th, Tuesday, N.W. Cape Sable, Florida Everglades Park Seashore - a.m. generator hours 1820.9. Ah, so nice to get up in the morning after a sound, peaceful sleep, knowing it would be a lazy day. We made a couple pots of coffee and had a nice breakfast of thick sliced bacon and homemade pancakes. We did emails, updated this log, watched the Today Show and read. Early we noticed that mosquitoes were collecting in our outside cockpit area. We opened the windscreens and lit a mosquito coil. The wind blew them out of there for the most part. We understand it can be awfully “buggy” here in the hot months. Our little investment house in Brunswick was not rented yet, so our insurance company issued a cancellation notice due to it being vacant. We emailed our broker, Parker Kaufman and told them to write a new 3 month policy that Lloyds of London quoted and decided to be optimistic that our rental agent, Riverside Realty, would “git ‘er done” by then. Several parties wanted to rent the house, but none passed the background checks. That is all right by us, as we would rather it stay empty than have folks move in, trash the place and skip out. It is tough handling these issues from the middle of no-where, but our Ham Radio allows us to have email access even when there is no WIFI around. We went to the shore beach around 2:00 p.m. having a nice walk with Miko and checking out the shells. Yesterday we walked south, today, north. Miko loved eating the natural sponges and driftwood she found. This was not good for her as they are saturated with saltwater so we kept a close eye on the little girl. We saw the footprints of a large bird we’d seen from MTB….BIG feet on that one! We were not sure what kind of bird it was but it didn’t look like a heron or pelican. Yesterday and again today we saw several large black sea type birds dead on the beach. Luckily, Miko didn’t catch the scent of any of them before we saw them and changed direction. The wind was pretty strong all day, but the anchorage waters settled down around 4:00 p.m. Wednesday’s winds were to be in the right direction for us to make our next leg to Everglades City, so we put the dinghy up at 5:00 p.m. We dreaded dodging crab pots yet another day. But, hopefully the further north we go, the fewer pots we’ll see. Our cruising guide said to stay near the Everglades Park boundary as pots are not allowed in park waters. Dinner was grilled chicken strips with buffalo sauce and salads, yum. We saw one little boat go by the anchorage in two days. What a peaceful, secluded and serene place. We both commented on how much cleaner this beach was than many of those in the Bahamas. There was very little human impact/trash here. Note to selves, come back again. $-0- spent this day.
December 8th, Monday, departed Middle Keys/Harbor Channel for Cape Sable, Florida, generator hours 1818.5. Engines p.m. port 962.7 and starboard, 894.6. Winds were to be east this a.m. but of course they were north, directly on our nose as we took off. Geez NOAA! The fishing boat that had been aground was gone, so during the night’s high, high tide, they got free. In this part of the Keys, the tides vary…there is a low tide and a low, low tide and conversely a high tide and a high, high tide. We figured those guys were happy to see the high, high tide. We pulled out at 7:55 a.m. disregarding the wind direction, being optimistic it would change and help our course during the day. The waves were coming directly at us early this day and that made for a crashing ride. It also made Miko seasick and sadly she threw up. We felt so bad as she is such a good girl and we hated that our actions caused her some distree. Luckily, during the day, the winds moved more and more to the east, the seas and Miko’s appetite got better. So, we were having a really nice sail and headed better toward our destination of Cape Sable, the southern most tip of the Florida mainland. We hoped to anchor off the Everglades National Park’s seashore. Crab pots were everywhere. That made turning MTB’s nose into the wind to raise and lower her sails without snagging a pot/buoy a real challenge. It is impossible to explain the frustration of keeping watch and trying to miss thousands of buoyed pots all around us, all day. At one point Cindy felt we had snagged one, as she didn’t see a pot MTB got close to, exit from under/behind as it should have. Cindy hooked on her tether and got down on the back steps to see if she could see any sign of a pot tagging along. Nothing. But, as MTB crashed in the seas that were hitting the bow of the boat, it seemed there were “puffs” of sand behind us that weren’t “normal”. When it was time to drop our sails and start our engines, Ken was very cautious and watched the temperature indicators closely. Once in gear, at one point there seemed to be a hot smell from the engines so we were concerned we may be dragging a crab pot. Watching behind us, all of the sudden, out popped various colored buoys…maybe 10 buoyed crab pots had been dragging along with us. Luckily, we seemed free of them and the engines’ temperature and performance all seemed normal. Sorry fishing dudes…hope you find those pots we took along with us for a long ride. No wonder our sailing speed had been slow with 15 knots of good direction wind. We made it safely into a nice coastal anchorage off a beautiful long white beach at N.W. Cape Sable. We again were the only boat in the area. The chart showed that we were officially in the Gulf of Mexico vs. the Atlantic, Florida Bay. Our anchor hooked nicely at 3:30 p.m. and we were glad, as our charts showed some of the bottom here was “soft”. Toby, the dinghy, splashed down at 4:10 p.m. We were shortly on shore with Miko, who was visiting her first real coastal beach. We walked this pristine shoreline for quite awhile and of course Miko tried to eat everything, sponges, seaweed, etc. We saw a “fin” near shore and watched it for a while, deciding it must be a small reef shark. The shelling on this beach was wonderful and certainly a “beach comers delight” as stated in our cruising guide. After a nice time, we went back to MTB and decided it prudent to “dive” our shaft/propellers to make sure they were ok. BBBRRRR, sorry Ken. And, bummer, the first prop/shaft was just fine and a chilly endeavor for no reason. Ah, but the starboard side was a different story. It had a black rope wrapped around the shaft, the prop and the zinc (a sacrificial metal piece to attract erosion caused by electrolysis, to minimize damage on the shaft). Three dive attempts under the boat later, the bad rope was cut off and MTB was free of the remnants of the “dragging pots” incident. Luckily, due to running the engines coming into the anchorage, there was hot water available. So, Ken had a hot shower as his reward for jumping into somewhat chilly water to assure that MTB was ok. Cindy blew the conch horn at sundown, though no other humans were around to hear it. The “anchor light” was on at 5:40 p.m. Boats at anchor are to shine a white light all night. Ours is on top of our mast. After a dinner of hamburger stroganoff and some TV watching, we headed down to our berth for what we knew was going to be a peaceful night’s sleep. $-0- spent this day.
December 7th, Sunday, departing Key West, generator hours a.m. 1816.3 (ran a lot to football previous day!). All the previous night we heard a loud, distant humming noise. Not sure what the heck it was. We thought wrongly that it was a generator from one of our nearby neighbors but, once we got up, found it was not. We decided it must have been something from a nearby military facility. It was loud and not conducive to deep sleep. Anyway, once again NOAA seemed crazy with their weather report for this day as seas and winds were totally flat this morning when they forecast to be 10-15 knot winds. We saw a storm front coming from the direction where we planned to head. Ken wondered if we should wait a day. But, the weather was not to be severe nor dangerous and we figured we would be sailing beyond the small front. We just hoped the winds would increase once we finished our westerly leg and turned north toward the mainland tip of Florida, going up through Florida Bay. We had the anchor up at 7:30 a.m. and luckily the rain started afterward…at 7:35 a.m. Our only concern in squalls is visibility, but this was not an issue as we could see ahead well enough. Soon after pulling out, we noticed two converging rainbows…the two ends of each one formed a huge “V” in the skies just ahead of us. It was amazing and neither us had ever seen anything like it before. We took a number of pictures as we motored along, out of Key West. After a 7 mile leg west, we turned north toward the Florida mainland, with a plan of anchoring west of the Middle Keys in Harbor Channel. We had visits twice from dolphins this day and saw a bunch of flying fish. The flying fish are a wonder and it is incredible how long they can stay in the air. Man, the dang crab/lobster pots were everywhere again this day and we really have to watch for them. The weather cleared during the day, nice and blue, though several squalls passed around us. Wind fluctuated from 2-20 knots this day….just weird this whole weather thing! Luckily we were able to sail almost the whole day and not running engines is so great. We picked a spot in between crab pots, turned into the wind and took down our sails about 2 p.m. As we motored into the anchorage channel we saw a fishing boat grounded on our starboard side. Uh huh…they ignored an important boating rule…never go where you see birds walking. There were birds walking on both sides of the channel. And we went over one “skinny” place that the depth finder showed 1.1 feet under our hulls. Those little number readings are very scary. But, Ken got us through and it was deep the rest of the way. We had very little protection out there other than shoals on both sides of us that helped calm the seas some for us. But, there were no boats around (except one trying to get his buddy off the shoal) so no real nearby danger if we did drag our anchor. We dropped anchor knowing we would be fine and it was just an overnight stop as we had no plan to go to a shore. We were anchored by 3:30 p.m. and the tide was rising. So, our entertainment was watching to see if the fishing boat got free as the tide rose with his buddy’s help. By dark, he was still out there and his buddy left. We made about 30 nautical miles this day. At 5:00 p.m. it was 72 degrees and nice aboard. Motor hours in the p.m. were port 959.9 and starboard, 891.8. Not sure why or how the previous owners attained the large difference in the usage of the two engines. When we are only going to use one engine, we use the starboard, trying to equalize the hours. We are gaining on it as they were about 100 hours apart when we bought MTB. $-0- spent this day.
December 6th, Saturday – Key West, Generator hours a.m. same, at 1812.2, didn’t run gennie last night as had plenty of power due to motoring on Friday. We took hot showers this a.m. also due to having power from motoring here. We had our cereal and put down the dinghy…boy this is starting to sound familiar…! It was gray and foggy in the anchorage this day and 72 degrees, which was pleasant. Wind was slight and the waters were flat. We left MTB for shore at around 11:3O am. We went in to the Key West Bight marina as they have a dinghy dock. It cost $6 to tie up for the day, but, have to “land” somewhere. When we were going in a large Coast Guard vessel with all the enlisted sailors on deck. It was impressive. Once on land, we headed to West Marine to see if they had the mainsail traveler part we need Nope…but we got free hotdogs…can’t beat that. They sent us to another marine store. Nope…not there either. We will try in Sarasota. Next, we just headed down toward Old Town to give Miko a walk and keep working on her socialization. She has been jumping up and biting and we need to get a hold on that. We went online this morning to try to see what to do. We found a Hagen Daas Ice Cream store, and had a few scoops for lunch. Yummy, but not as good as our favored Kilwin’s in St. Augustine. Everyone on Duval Street had to stop and ask about Miko and play with her. She is such a spoiled brat. Once done walking we went to the Key West Market, as we needed bread. Cindy bought a baguette, a Cuban bread and a loaf of sourdough. That should last a few days. Finally we headed back to MTB and were onboard around 3:00 p.m. After listening to the weather report, decided we would leave on Sunday, heading north to the Gulf Coast, so put up the dinghy. Sunset brought yet another amazing array of vessels, including one that was firing cannons. Really an interesting anchorage with the backdrop of wonderful sunsets. We listened to the University of Florida vs. Alabama football game on the radio. It was funny because when Florida did something good, we could hear cheers on the booze cruise type boats all around us/bay. Tonight is Key West’s Christmas parade, which would be fun. But, we decided not to go in, electing to stay on board and be slugs. Miko was glad, as she didn’t want to be left home alone….brat. We got internet via wifi from the local resort this a.m. so were able to download our emails. Luckily, nothing required attention nor were urgent.
$34.64 spent this day on dinghy dock, groceries and ice cream.
December 5th, Friday, departed Boot Key, headed South – Generator hours a.m. 1812.2. We were up early. Ken transferred some diesel fuel from our front reserve tank back to the two rear tanks that have fuel gauges. We were out of the anchorage by 7:30 a.m. heading for Key West though there was no wind and the seas were flat. We thought about not leaving. But, when you have good weather, you take the opportunity to move and the dinghy was already up and ready to go. Ah, once again NOAA blew the forecast …didn’t have 10-15 knot winds for sure. Motored, then motor sailed with the mainsail, then with both the mainsail and the jib, then just motored. Geez. A few days earlier a monohull named Ruby Slippers sailed out of Biscayne Bay with us. That day, we passed them, they passed us on the way south. We turned into Rodriquez Key but they kept going. We saw them again in the Boot Key Harbor, on a mooring ball. And, this morning they left Marathon a little before us. When we got near them on the way south, Ken called and said hello. They were going to Key West as well and were from Wisconsin. They put up a large front spinnaker and blew off into the distance, a great sail for downwind sailing. Unfortunately, ours was not yet rigged up for use…need to get on that. Again this leg, there were crab pots everywhere….Ken decided they are out here as “aids to navigation”….ah, NOT. The skies were beautiful this day and we had about 6 other sailboats in front/back of us during the day, all heading to Key West we were sure. We saw one dolphin (shark maybe) this day. When we arrived at Key West, a cruise ship had just exited the channel. If we had been earlier, we may have been trying to get out of their way. We quickly found a nice place to anchor, north of Sunset Key and west of Wisteria Island. These are two small private islands just off the main Key West waterfront harbour. Once settled, wines were poured and we were treated to a wonderful parade of probably 20 various types of vessels all heading out for tourist sunset cruises. Some were pirate ships, a few old schooner type sailboats, several big new huge modern catamarans, and power yachts doing dinner cruises. All these boats were off our stern and highlighted with a back drop of a beautiful sunset…what a show…what interesting photos. Welcome to Key West. We had pork dirty rice for dinner, and once again promised Miko we’d take her to shore on Saturday. We had an email this day from Winnie, the Westhighland Terrier owned by friends on Rum Tum Tiger, Craig and Mary. It made us laugh. Miko is going to have to respond. $ -0- spent this day. Engine hours p.m - port 957.4 and starboard 889.3
December 4th, Thursday, anchored off coast of Boot Key, by 7 Mile Bridge (east end) – Today we gave Miko her next series of puppy meds (parvo, bordatella). Our vet gave the meds to us so we could make sure Miko gets the shots/meds routinely needed for puppies while we travel. We had to promise only to give them to her if we were near vet care, in case of an allergic or some other type of reaction. By 9:30 a.m. we had Toby, the dinghy, splashed and were ready to go exploring. We motored into the harbor and were very glad we decided to anchor off shore…what a zoo…hundreds of boats, dinghies and people everywhere. We motored as far one can, through the harbor and up a Vaca Key canal just to see what was around. We went back to the public dinghy dock at the Municipal Marina. A really nice young man named Caleb who lives aboard a large catamaran helped us with our lines and played with Miko. We find that the kids of cruisers tend to be smart, polite, self assured and interesting. Most are home schooled, but we are not sure if that is the difference. Caleb was yet another example of the good qualities we see in “cruiser kids”. As we headed to the park to walk Miko, two nice women with two beautiful Golden Retrievers were walking along with us. The Goldens were 14 and 10 years old and not too interested in dealing with a punk pup like Miko, but they were tolerant. We walked together a ways and enjoyed their company. We parted and continued on…walked and walked. We visited a number of businesses: Home Depot, Boater’s World (Miko got a treat), a deli/liquor store, a shoe/Tshirt store, the Key Lime Pie store, West Marine, a dinghy dealership “Inflatable Boats of the Keys” and ate lunch at the Cracked Conch Café. They brought Miko a bowl of water (though we always carry bottled water for her) and that was so nice. We walked back to the dinghy (carried little Miko) just in time to see an enormous Manatee by the dinghy dock. This day could not get any better. The sightings of these gentle giants are a gift that we so appreciate. After the “Shock and AW” in seeing the amazing, huge creature, we headed for MTB. At the last marina before leaving the harbor channel, we stopped to top off the dinghy gas tank. The lady at the gas dock was really super nice. If only all folks were that pleasant, life would be great. She knew ours would be a small sale ($7.92) but it really didn’t matter and even offered us a free bag of ice. We have a freezer and ice cube trays, so declined, but again, how nice. When we finally arrived back at MTB, Miko absolutely crashed for the night. We made big chef salads for dinner, put up the dinghy and checked weather. It was a “go” to head out in the a.m. Spent $83.40 for lunch, a pair of Tevas for Cindy, two extra large bottom coffee mugs and a couple Christmas gift items.
December 3rd, Wednesday, departed anchorage at Rodriquez Key, heading south. Our hope was to get to the northwest side of Boot Key this day.Generator hours in the a.m. were 1808.1. We gave Miko her last pill of yet another series of drugs to try to rid her of kennel cough so we’ll keep our fingers crossed. We were out of the anchorage at 7:45 am, sails up by 8:30 a.m. The day was clear, the skies were blue and it was a little cool. Winds were running about 10-15 knots so it seemed to be another good day to sail. We are running down the Keys using the “Hawk Channel” route. This is considered the “outside” route south, meaning we are on the Atlantic side of the islands of the Keys. There is an inside pass, considered part of the ICW…but it is shallow and there are fixed bridges that our 65’ mast will not go under. We like being on the outside any way as it is more fun to sail and less traffic. At around 10:45 a.m. off the coast of Islamorada near the Alligator Reef, Ken spotted a huge, beautiful sea turtle. These sightings are truly something amazing and just take your breath away. This guy was a big one. They look up at you with their big eyes and you get mesmerized. Once the stun wears off, you think of running for the camera but before you can, they dive and are instantly gone. The waters around the Keys are full of crab/lobster pots…every color, everywhere. They were everywhere. In the reef area called the “Hen and Chickens” the pots were prolific. We sure didn’t want to snag one in a rudder so kept a close watch.When we were near “Channel Five”, one of the few channels west to Florida Bay/Gulf with a 65 foot bridge, we were surrounded by really large, dark color (almost black) dolphins. What fun they are to watch.This day we didn’t see another sailboat around us which is strange. We did have one whopping huge yacht zoom by us really close and his wake was incredible. Ken was going to call on the VHF radio…”ah, Independence, we apologize for not getting out of your way”! The whole Atlantic at his disposal…what a jerk that Captain was. This day was spent in all aqua waters. It was nice…made us feel a little like we were in the Bahamas. The day stayed chilly but that was ok as it beats sweating! We turned in toward Boot Key and the eastern end/start of the 7 Mile Bridge. We saw an area we felt would be a good anchorage, pulled in and hooked our anchor solid. So, by 4:30 pm we were settled in for the evening. There was one other small catamaran with us and two large monohulls further out. The Boot Key Harbor is huge and protected…but we chose not to go in. It is full of boats…most are live aboards. Everyone must take a mooring ball, for a cost. Additionally, it is noisy and they recommend if you are over 40’ not to go in. We were very happy staying out by the 7 Mile Bridge and the sunset this night was great. We had drinks and dinner aboard and promised Miko to drop the dinghy in the a.m. and give her a long walk. We planned to rest here an extra day. P.M. engine hours: port – 952.5 and starboard 883.6. $-0- spent this day. A great day of sailing.
December 2nd, 2008 Tuesday, departing Coconut Grove, Florida/Biscayne Bay – AM generator reading was 1806.3. After coffee and cereal, the anchor was up at 7:15 am. We opted to go back in, though Dinner Key marina’s channel vs. trying to go straight out from our anchorage. It was low tide and we just didn’t want to take a chance of going aground. Once out the channel and into the middle of Biscayne Bay, going by the houses of Stiltsville, the sky got really ugly looking…almost tornado like. The waves were building and we once again were amazed at how wrong NOAA had been with their weather forecast…again. MTB is a good vessel, so we decided to keep going and motor until around 10 o’clock to see what was happening by then. We did see another CAT turn around and head back in…aw, not us…we were optimistic. The storm went all around us but we only got a few sprinkles. We had South winds, which was not in the forecast and not good when going South. At 10ish, we put just the front jib sail out, she filled nicely so we cut the engines. We actually started sailing faster than we had been going with our engines (two 40 hp YanMar diesels) running, that’s cool. During the day, the winds gusted as high as 29.9 knots, but we were very comfortable with just the jib up and following seas just pushing us along. We had a great 45 nautical miles sail this day which was welcome, vs. having to do an overnight leg. We picked an anchorage just northwest of Rodriquez Key, which is a small private island that lies a little south of Key Largo. Since seas in the bay where we were anchored were a still kind of splashy, we just decided to stay on board this evening and head out early on Wednesday for Boot Key and the City of Marathon. In the past, always thought Marathon was an island in the Keys. But, found that it is a city on the island of Vaca Key. There is a river that separates Vaca and Boot Keys. We had very little protection in the Rodriquez Key anchorage, but our anchor hooked really well when we put it down. So, we felt very comfortable, especially being the only boat around and knew it was 1800 yards to shore. Hours on engines p.m. were port 951.1 and starboard 882.2.
December 1st, 2008 Monday, Coconut Grove, Florida, in Biscayne Bay – A.M. generator reading 1804.5 hours. We got up at 6:15 a.m. (geez) and checked the weather and emails. Annie once again slept most the night with us. The previous day’s storm had blown totally through and the bay was like a lake, flat and there was –0- knots of wind. The skies were still overcast and light showers happened a few times during the day. We took our showers as usual – quickly and using as little water as possible. And, though still rather cold and gray, we headed into shore. This town is nice to cruisers (some are not). They have garbage cans at the dinghy dock…so nice to clear off the trash on board. We walked alot around the Grove letting Miko smell everything! We went to a bench outside of Starbucks and were able to pick up WIFI and updated the website and got emails. Went to CVS looking for flip flops for Ken. But, he bought some nice ones at a cool skateboarder supplies shop, neat place near the waterfront. We had lunch of burgers, fries/rings and chocolate malts at Johnny Rockets, a 50’s diner type place. It was unbelievably expensive, but we could sit outside and the waitstaff was so nice to us…loved Miko of course. We noticed the very attractive Public Library on our return walk to the waterfront/dinghy dock. It would probably be a good place to use for WIFI on our next visit. We put these little helpful things in our memory bank…all part of learning the ropes of this cruiser lifestyle we lead. Once back on MTB, we did some boat jobs – scrubbed the “cement” bird poop off the decks and solar panels. It was the worst stuff we’ve ever seen. We have to find out what those weird ugly black pooper birds are called. Ken lubricated the main sail slide hardware. Miko got her heartworm and flea meds this day. Dishes were washed and everything put away in anticipation of sailing on Tuesday. The skies cleared throughout the day which was nice. $62 spent this day.
November 30, 2008 Sunday, Coconut Grove, Florida, in Biscayne Bay – A.M. generator reading 1802.7 hours. We woke to a building cold front with stormy skies and increasing winds and seas. The high during the day was 28.1 knots of wind and in the evening, thurnderstorms surrounded us. Days like this are just spent trying to entertain Miko, reading and eating. We had a nice lunch of barbeque on toast and dinner was leftover turkey, rice/gravy. Cindy did some sewing (putting buttons back on pajamas that Miko had eaten off!). At one point, there was zero visibility and we couldn’t see anything on shore. Each time there was a break in the rain, we took Miko outside for a boat walkabout. The dinghy filled with water, but MTB got a welcomed fresh water rinse. We got an email from Rum Rum Tiger telling us about being run into by another sailboat that broke loose in the Ft. Pierce anchorage by the north bridge. They were lucky and saw the boat coming so had not damage and were able to get away and move to a new anchorage. All in all a very lazy day, though expected due to keeping a careful watch as always on the weather reports. $-0- money spent this day.
November 9, 2008 Sunday – Brunswick, GA – Around noon with help from neighbors on Katabatik, we cast off of our lines and left Brunswick Landing Marina headed south. We decided due to our late departure, we’d just do an overnight trip to St. Augustine, vs. making our normal first stop at Cumberland Island, GA. We probably would reach Cumberland after dark and we needed to try to make up some time. We were delayed on our ETD of November 1 due to a small leak in our starboard diesel tank. Leaving this day was bittersweet as we set sail without our two beloved Shar Peis, Dempsey and Mac. Having lost them both this summer has been hard. Dempsey died of old age maladies and Mac we lost to a fast attacking spleen cancer. Both losses were so very hard. Though life goes on and we set sail this trip with our new little girl, a Shiba Ina puppy “Miko”. She was born 07-28-08. And, our cats are happily with us again this year, though neither of them are 100% healthy. Bailey, the 17 year old, is exhibiting the effects of kidney failure, verified in her annual physical blood work done before our departure. And, Annie the 5 year old, is lethargic and bloated, though her blood work did not show anything conclusive. So, both the kitties are on a special kidney diet, with Annie also on antibiotics. Still, both were very happy when we brought them back aboard the boat on Saturday. So, south we go.
November 10, 2008 Monday – St. Augustine, FL. We arrived in our preferred anchorage in St. Augustine early morning. We dropped the anchor and were welcomed to the anchorage by our Brunswick friends, Craig and Mary, aboard Rum Tum Tiger. They decided to stay an additional day. This made us happy as we thought we were going to miss them by a day. So, we made plans to go ashore and have lunch together at our favorite place “Flavors”, the best food around. After a few hours rest, around noon, we dropped the dinghy and headed in to meet our friends at the St. Augustine Municipal marina. There is a dinghy dock there, dog walk, restrooms, laundry, oil/diesel disposal, gas dock, ship store, showers and garbage dumpster. For a $10 a day tie up fee, all amenities are open to us “cruisers”. It was great to spend time with Craig and Mary and we enjoyed great food at Flavors. C & M had errands they wanted to run and we wanted to give Miko a nice walk. So, we went back to Meant To Be, picked up Miko and gave her the first dinghy ride to shore. She wasn’t too thrilled about her “float coat” but tolerated it for the ride. Must say, she looked adorable in her pink with white polka dots…the only color Brunswick’s Boat US had in her size. Ken and Cindy both felt it was a little too “foofie” for her but actually was cute. Miko had a great time meeting every person we passed. She was definitely doing well with her “socialization”. Everyone stopped, asked what kind of dog she is and all seemed to love our new little one. This is nice and helps ease the sadness of losing our other two “boys”. We took her back to MTB, grabbed a bite of dinner and headed back to town to find Craig and Mary. There were two downtown Veteran’s Day ceremonies this evening that we all planned to enjoy. And yes…. enjoy we did. Our first event was held at 6:30 in the main downtown square. This was a free concert given by the regional Coast Guard Band and it was wonderful, wonderful, with inspiring patriotic music and time to honor those who had served in each arm of our military. Then we went to Trinity Parish Episcopal Church who also had a free evening program. Theirs was complete with worship/prayers those currently serving in our military, live music, the singing of patriotic songs and time to honor our Veterans. It was nice to be able to tell Craig thanks for his service to our country. He was in the Army and you could tell that both events meant a lot to him, as they did to all of us. It was a really special evening. The Episcopal church was packed and we were just going to stand at the doors in back. The parishioners wouldn’t hear of it and hey brought us folding chairs and encouraged us to come inside even though we were there a little late, due to attending the other outside concert. It was a shame these two wonderful events were scheduled so there was some overlap. We would have loved to do all of both. Regardless, again, it was a really great night. Funny how St. Augustine always throws the four of us a party when we arrive. Last year we got to St. Augustine and learned that evening there was to be the annual downtown Christmas lights illumination celebration. So, the four of us attended it last year and again very much enjoyed the ambiance of St. Augustine. Very nice.
November 11, 2008 Tuesday – St. Augustine, FL – Friends Craig, Mary, Winnie on Rum Tum Tiger pulled out of the anchorage this a.m. We were still tired from arriving Monday after doing Sunday’s overnight leg. So, we decided to hang around St. Augustine another day, or until weather allowed us good sailing on our next leg south. We went to town as we had really been looking forward to our ice cream from our favorite decadent place, Kilwins, yummy. Again, Miko was like a rock star walking around the area. Everyone once again had to stop and love on her….adults, men, women, kids…it was great. She met “Bliss” a sweet little girl in a stroller with her grandmother. Bliss loved Miko and it was mutual. Miko even met a 65 year old Parrot. The owner said that the Parrot was called “Gus” for about 40 years. Then, “Gus” laid an egg so now the bird is called “Gussie”. Too funny. We wanted to take a trolley tour around town, but we couldn’t as dogs were not allowed. So, we did a really nice long run/walk with Miko around the historical fort grounds…lots of room to run in nice green grass. The fort is very interesting and lots of school groups visit each day. We found out by surprise last year that the do re-enactments of cannon shots…loud, too. So, every so often off goes a surprise blast. Would be ok if they were scheduled so you could prepare for the surprise, but they on do them when volunteers and groups are available. We all headed back to the boat and hung out for the evening. It was Cindy’s Dad’s birthday this day, so we called home. And while making calls, we spoke to friend Judy McBrearty and Ken’s daughter, Jessica as well.
November 12, 2008 Wednesday – St. Augustine – We went to town again this day as Miko sure loves her rides and walking around town. We ran into Bliss one more time and Miko was very excited to see this little toddler again. We are working hard to make sure Miko is good with people and especially children so she will be great with our granddaughter, Audrey. Of course, ice cream was a must again this day. Cindy had homemade Georgia peach, Ken had the cappaccino chocolate chip. Kilwin’s is totally wonderful and we have fantasies of opening one of these franchises on St. Simons…….naw, we would both weigh 400 pounds. After returning Miko to MTB, we headed back in to town to get our trolley tickets. We found that each ticket included access for three days and a free bus that shuttles out to St. Augustine Beach. So, off we went. We love the little trolley tours, as you learn so many interesting facts about the area, history and architecture. We’ve done them in DC, and other places and find them to be more than just a tourist thing…rather a good education on the place you are visiting. Great. We jumped on the bus that went out to St. Augustine beach, The Alligator Farm and the Lighthouse. Luckily, we noticed a Veterinary office whene we got off to walk to the beach. We knew we may need to get some more meds for Miko’s persistent kennel cough, based on some test results we were waiting for from test done before we left home. So, we went in to Anastasia Vet Clinic and asked if our Vet needed to call in meds for us, could they help. They said no problem and the nice folks gave us their business card. Can’t beat that, good folks, right on the trolley route …sometimes we have to be creative with transportation. So, after our trolley and bus rides, we took Toby the dinghy back to MTB to find a very happy Miko waiting patiently to have her folks back home. We are crate training this new puppy and it is working out just great as we know she is secure and calm in her little “McMansion”.
November 14, 2008 Friday – We spoke to our Brunswick GA based veterinarian today and Miko’s tests did show she still had the persistent kennel cough she has had since we bought her. When the say never buy an pet from a pet store,….LISTEN. We knew better, but unfortunately (ah, really fortunately) fell under the loving spell of our sweet little Miko. Until she is healthy, that decision will cause a persistent worry. Anyway, more meds were called into the St. Augustine beach vet and off we went to the tour bus to ride out to pick them up. Since we had a little time to wait for the bus, we stopped in a French bistro…complete with bakery. We bought almond crescents and a warm, crusty yummy baguette. We love this town. Riding on the bus to the beach Vet, we ate a good bit of the baguette! We got off at our stop, jumped into the Vet’s office and found they had our meds for Miko ready and waiting. Love it when a plan comes together. So, we were back to the bus stop in plenty of time to catch the return trip shuttle, without having to wait a full hour for the next loop they make. Well, there we stand on the corner as we watch our bus pass right by, leaving us. After a moment of disbelief, we guessed we were meant to have lunch right there at the corner restaurant, “Mango Mango”. Ken had some great chowder and Cindy a really nice salad. Once again we head out to the corner, catch the bus and head home to MTB to play with Miko. It was Cindy’s brother’s birthday this day, so Cindy caught Bruce on his cell phone as he was headed to his camp cabin for the weekend. Now, this evening really turned into a special night. Cindy’s friend from high school in Sarasota, Arddy/husband Leo, drove down from Jacksonville to meet us at the St. Augustine Municipal marina at 5:30 p.m. They drove us out to have dinner at Comanche Cove marina’s great waterside restaurant, which was very enjoyable. Then, we all headed out to Villano Beach, where cars are still allowed to drive. We went out to the point that overlooks the inlet we sail into from the Atlantic when arriving in St. Augustine. Then, the evening became amazing…..a scheduled shuttle launch totally lit up the night sky. It was an incredible vantage point and a spectacle that one must experience in one’s lifetime. What an experience. Each of the four of us could just utter “wow”….wonderful night. On the way off the beach, we noted a number of goombas who had gotten themselves stuck in the beach sand. Luckily, Leo knew to stay in the hard, packed stuff! Arddy and Leo dropped us back to the marina and out we went in the dinghy back to MTB. We like to stay well away from the shore and other crazies anchored aaround us…so it takes a while to get back, but a nice ride each time, along the lighted waterfront and by the fort. And, at night they don’t shoot cannons at us! What a nice day and evening…what a life. We checked the weather, as we did plan to leave for points south on Saturday. Seas were then being reported at 4-7 which were more than we normally like to sail. So, since the next day was football Saturday, decided to hang around one more day in St. Augustine.
November 15, 2008 Saturday, St. Augustine – This was a lazy, football watching day. We just hung around on MTB most of the day and prepared her for sailing on Sunday. We did get Miko ashore for a walk and to drop off some soiled oil with marina personnel. They handle proper disposal. We put the dinghy up in the afternoon and went to bed early as we planned to do an overnight trip south to Fort Pierce, FL.
November 16, 2008 Sunday, 7:30 a.m., departed St. Augustine, heading for Fort Pierce. These long trips are hard, but sometimes an overnight leg is necessary. With the good reported winds of 10-15 and seas of only 2-4’, we hoped for a nice sail south. Well, we got out early, put up our sails and had bupkiss…no wind and what there was came from directly behind us. Our speed went from 2-8 knots throughout the day, so we finally decided we would have to motor sail. We hate running the engines…diesel smell and spending money, both not attractive options!!!
November 17, 2008 Monday – After trading times on watch through the night, we arrived in Fort Pierce Inlet around midday. We took down the sails so we could motor in the inlet. Depending on wind, tide and seas, inlets often times are wild to enter, many times in a “rage” situation. If the wind is blowing the seas inland, against an outgoing tide, entry can be rough…but calm the further in one gets. This day the inlet was calm, but unfortunately, was blocked by about 10 local fishing boats. Small local motorized boats are supposed to yield to incoming boats from the Atlantic in the channel. But, a number of these little vessels appeared to be in “fish on” situations and were totally unconcerned about protocol…ignoring the 23’ wide catamaran bearing down on them. Guess a fish is a fish! Well, this was a situation different from any other we have encountered. Cindy caught sight of a little hole of daylight, yelled to Ken “port, port” and MTB squeezed through the block aid without killing anyone or ramming another vessel. The rest of the ride into our preferred anchorage was unremarkable. We anchored on the west side of the “north” bridge, outside of the Harbortown Marina. There was plenty of room on our arrival and we picked a nice spot to anchor. The Stay Sea B was still anchored there…so we now have seen her our last three visits! The fisherman/daughter living aboard an old derelict sailboat were also still there this visit. Luckily, this was the first time here that we didn’t encounter “Bob”. He was the captain of a catamaran that drug into us one night on our first visit here. We had a nice relaxed evening aboard.
November 18, 2008 Tuesday, Ft. Pierce, FL – We put down the dinghy, put Miko in her little pink and white polka dot float coat (she is still not thrilled with this!), and headed to shore. We decided not to go to Harbortown Marina this time as they hadn’t been very cruiser friendly the last few times we went in there. This time, we headed north, through the bridge and then west to the commercial fishing docks. Ken went up and asked if we could tie up our dinghy while we walked up to Publix and West Marine. The first guy he asked said if it was up to him…sure. But, he told Ken to talk to another guy. Once Ken did and found it was ok to tie up at their dock, the first guy told him he was lucky to talk to the second guy because he would have told us “sure, but it’ll cost ya $25”! They were funny and nice with a “no problem” attitude that was very refreshing. We walked up to AIA to CVS, West Marine and Publix. After buying a couple replacement light bulbs for our bilge indicator lights, we went to “A Taste of Brooklyn” for lunch. It is a little hole in the wall that we enjoyed on a previous visit. We found it unchanged and still tasty. They had outside tables, so there we sat and ate with Miko. Once done, Cindy went into Publix for some produce and a Sara Lee coffee cake for breakfast. Shopping complete, we walked back down to the commercial docks and back to the dinghy, home to MTB for the evening. The anchorage was really calm and not crowded. The setting is a perfect location for enjoying sunrises, sunsets, manatee and dolphin visits. Life was good. We were joined this night by a Lagoon 440 with a shortened mast. Craig on Rum Tum Tiger said he came across these folks in Titusville and said they were “afraid to sail”….shame to have that beautiful vessel and not put it on the Atlantic, choosing instead to stay on the ICW.
November 19, 2008 Wednesday, Ft. Pierce, FL – We wanted to give Miko another walk ashore, so we took a wet, cold dinghy ride into the Fort Pierce Municipal marina about a mile south of our anchorage. This is the downtown section of Ft. Pierce and we had never visited there before. We tied up along a sea wall in the municipal marina and went walking in town. It is a beautiful downtown…but weirdly unpopulated. We saw so very few people out and about, it was weird. We walked to the Save a Ton to see if they had the puppy chow we needed for Miko, but they didn’t. Publix had only one bag and someone had opened it, taken some out and put it back on the shelf to sell. Strange. So, Miko only has one bag of food onboard, and we will need to remedy that situation shortly. We went back to the main street area downtown and Ken visited an office supply store to get a log book for us to use to record our weather report information. We went back to MTB against the cold wind and waves. Cindy worked hard to cradle Miko inside her sweatshirt to assure she didn’t get chilled. Unfortunately, Ken wasn’t so lucky arriving cold and wet back on MTB. We caught up with Ken’s dad on the cell phone and just tried to stay warm the rest of the evening…record low temperatures this day. BBBBBBBRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR.
November 20, 2008 – Thursday – Ft. Pierce, FLAfter a pancake breakfast, we once again dinghied to the commercial dock to walk up and visit Publix, CVS and the liquor store. Miko had a nice ride and walk. We got back to the boat and did a number of boat jobs. We oiled the snaps on the cushions in the salon, did some reinforcment sewing on the sail bag, cleaned the green stuff of the back sugar scoops, polished the windlass (motor that automates the raising of our sails), added some more padding to the port side dinghy davit, and emptied the trash. We put up the dinghy in anticipation of sailing out the next day. We cooked the next to last package of frozen Mahi Mahi we caught in May in the Bahamas…sad when the last is gone…will have to do some more fishing!
November 21, 2008 – Friday, leaving Ft. Pierce for Lake Worth, FL. We had our anchor up at 7:30 a.m. and saw Manatees on our departure. We think each town’s Chamber sends these guys to say hello and goodbye. Luckily, the Inlet wasn’t blocked with local fishing boats this day and our departure through the inlet was much less stressful than our arrival. Winds once again were not as reported (10-15 knots) so unfortunately, to assure our arrival in Lake Worth before dark, we had to once again fire up the engines which just breaks our hearts each time! The day was pretty easy and Miko was calm and relaxed the whole way. We arrived at the inlet sea buoy at 4:40 pm and made our way in. This was our first time in this inlet (also called the Palm Beach inlet) so glad we had some time before sundown to get in and anchored. Sundown was to be 5:30 ish. We turned south out of the inlet, toward Palm Beach, traveling down the east shore of West Palm Beach in the ICW channel. The anchorage was very large and we found a nice open spot on the West coast of Palm Beach in front of a number of “McMansions”. Our anchor was down and hooked well by 5:15 pm. So, we enjoyed a nice sundown glass of wine and leftover spaghetti for dinner. The night lights of West Palm beach were very nice. We had winds of 20-25 (where were they when we were in the Atlantic?!) knots and the resulting slap on our hulls was noisy but we slept just fine.
November 22, 2008 Saturday, Palm Beach, Fl. – Winds were still very high this day so the dinghy didn’t even get put down. Luckily we had the entertainment of a sailing regatta with teenagers aboard the various sailboats. One of the buoys set on the race route was near us so, boats continued sailing past us all day. We made pancakes for breakfast, some Cuban sandwiches for lunch and pork roast for dinner. We enjoyed the view all day, though Miko was crazy and needed to get to shore. She seems to have grown so much just overnight! We took the divider out of her crate to allow her to have the full area of her “McMansion”. We were anchored off the west shore of Palm Beach, across from the east shore of West Palm Beach. It is said that West Palm is the “other side of the tracks” from Palm Beach. We watched FSU on tv beat Maryland and it was a great game. They announced that Myron Rolle (defensive player for FSU) was selected this day to be a Rhodes Scholar…impressive young man. His mama was waiting for him at the Maryland game (FSU got a private flight approved to get Myron back from the interview in Alabama). She was so very proud and got a huge hug when he arrived.
November 23, 2008 Sunday – Palm Beach, Fl – ah…nice and warm….FINALLY! The anchorage was calm and we really enjoyed our breakfast of corned beef hash and coffee. At 9:00 a.m. we got the dinghy down and motored to a municipal dock in West Palm Beach. We were a little concerned by the number of homeless folks checking us out as we arrived and wished we had a lock for the dinghy motor. We just hoped for the best. We walked the waterfront all the way to the Flagler Bridge in downtown West Palm Beach. This took us past the hospital, the Palm Beach Yacht club and some beautiful properties. From the waterfront, we walked west on Clematis Avenue, an area of cafes, restaurants and hotels. Then we turned south on Olive Street and found “City Place” an open air walking mall complete with a Publix. Nice. There was a free shuttle that would have been a nice for heading back to the waterfront with groceries, but they would not let us aboard with Miko. We shopped at Publix – puppy chow, fresh bread, cheese, pastries and a newspaper…life’s necessities! $33.99. We got back to the municipal park to find that Toby, the dinghy, was still there and that was a really good thing. After a nice little putt putt back to MTB up the ICW channel, we watched a group of little kids in really little sailboats take classes. They were so cute and the instructors in dinghies with them were very good and patient. We planned our route for the next leg south with an intended stop at Coconut Grove, Biscayne Bay, Florida. Miko had a great walk and was totally pooped this evening. We like to wear her out the day before we sail another leg, as she seems to relax more the next day. We put up the dinghy and prepared to move south.
November 24, 2008 Monday, leaving Palm Beach heading overnight to Miami area. We decided to depart mid day as we didn’t want to arrive in Miami before dawn. So, once we were ready and the traffic on the ICW cleared some, we up anchored at 12:30 pm. We motored out past Peanut Island. This small island is situated right in the middle of the inlet access and one has to turn port or starboard to go around it. The island is historical as it contains the “JFK bunker”. This bunker was prepared as the place to take President Kennnedy in case things went badly with the Cuban missile crisis. The Coast Guard also has a very nice building on this island that is used by locals for fishing, hiking and picnics. Once out the inlet, we put up both sails and turned south. Unfortunately, yet again, the NOAA (national weather) folks were inaccurate. The wind speed and the wind direction were not as forecast. We tried three times to tack, sail out further, to try and catch some wind to push us the proper direction. Nothing worked and finally, we gave in, took down the sails and fired up the engines. Man, we hate burning diesel. Luckily we had the sails down and mobility of the motors. During the a.m. hours, off the coast of Ft. Lauderdale, we went through two squalls with building seas, high gusting winds, no visibility and driving rains. It is nice to get a fresh water wash on MTB, but a challenge when you can’t see the lights of other vessels…especially in a busy area such as Ft. Lauderdale. Miko seems to grow every day. She is going up and down the three steep steps down to our living quarters routinely now. She is teething severely, which causes us to be recipients of arm and ankle bites which are painful. Our ankles look like they have been perforated. Ouch. She has outgrown the first collar we bought for her . We took out the wall divider in her crate to make more room for her. Now she has a McMansion”.
November 25, 2008 overnight on route from Palm Beach to Miami – in the early a.m. we came by “Government Cut” which is Miami’s major port access point. At this point, Ken noticed that our front red/green running lights were out. So, he went up front and was able to change the bulb successfully. Not a good feeling going by the largest port on the entire east coast without navigation lights! On the entrance channel into Biscayne Bay, we encountered 10-15 sailboats heading out to make their crossing to the Bahamas. No wind, but light seas so guess they don’t mind motoring. We heard a number of boat names that were in the Bahamas with us last year. That is one interesting thing about this cruising life…coming across boats/folks that we met, heard, have seen elsewhere. The channel we selected to come in from the Atlantic took us straight through “Stiltsville”. This is a group of 7 remaining homes that are now part of the park service here. These homes are no longer lived in but are used for certain special events. It is so strange to sail through a neighborhood of houses in the middle of a massive body of water. Once we made our way into the Dinner Key area, we had to learn how to access the anchorage area. One has to come in a channel, make a tight port side turn, pass docks, and make an abrupt left turn into a channel that goes through the anchorage with boats anchored on both sides. We motored out the channel, picked a place that looked safe and uncrowded, dropped the anchor and could see through the water that it hooked well. Once settled, we put down the dinghy immediately, as we promised Miko. Once we took our showers, rested a little, we headed to Coconut Grove. We found a nice municipal dinghy dock and tied up. We asked a man on shore where the nearest grocery store might be. He sent us to a very nearby Fresh Market. Also, we found a great Marine store called Hopkins Carter Marine and they had the bulbs we need to replace our burnt out navigation lights $26.00. We bought a few things at the Fresh Market $19.82. We got back to MTB, crashed as the overnight trips always zap us. We woke up at 9:15 p.m. in time to watch the finals of Dancing with the Stars. We had leftover pork roast, potato salad and corn for dinner and then a quiet night, good sleep. Port engine hours 946.9; starboard 877.9.
November 26, 2008 Wednesday, Coconut Grove anchorage, Biscayne Bay, FL - This morning we luckily remembered to take the already baked/sliced Butterball turkey breast to thaw. The anchorage was so calm and the sun shining on downtown Miami was a beautiful backdrop. Bailey kitty and Miko “played” together this day. We laughed so hard as Bailey backed Miko into a corner in the kitchen. The video we took was great. We were visited by a local charter guy who is considering buying a Leopard for his fleet. We invited him aboard for a visit. Miko loved having company as she just loves people. When we went to shore, Sue aboard Flicka waved us over. She wanted to see Miko and also told us that the Fresh Market has their own dinghy dock. She advised that we lock our dinghy and our gas as there have been a number of local thefts. Ashore, Miko once again met everyone, including a Chihuahua and another big dog that she got to play with. She also seemed to be a magnet for each of the homeless people (a bunch) we passed as we walked around the shopping area in the Grove. One excited Chinese young man took a number of photos of our cute puppy. We found the local post office and bought stamps for our Christmas cards $22.68. Back to MTB, Miko was pooped. This day we actually did some boat jobs – polished fixtures in our head; fixed a leak on the dinghy motor; did the dishes, washed the head floor and put down new rugs. For lunch we had rotisserie chicken breasts, potato salad and bread. We enjoyed happy hour aboard, ate bread and tootsie rolls for dinner and had a nice quiet evening.
November 27, 2008 Thanksgiving Thursday, Coconut Grove, FL – This a.m. we woke up to 66 degrees in the salon, getting up around 7 a.m. The winds, sea were calm and it was a nice bright day. We watched the Macy’s parade and the Purina dog show that followed. Ken did some reading, trying to knock out a book he has been working on for awhile, “Caribbean”. Again this a.m., Miko played a little with Bailey. “Blue Belle”, a monohull sailboat had come into the channel and must have run aground near us. “Boat US” was over helping them and we guessed the folks aboard were “thankful” for their help this a.m. Cindy cleaned Miko’s ears. Ken went in the containers in our front hull storage area “the pantry” to find our cranberry sauce for dinner. We took Miko ashore on a small local island that is used for walks, picnics, etc. This was Miko’s first sand and seashore, water situation. She headed straight into the water when Cindy called, realized she was wet and headed straight back to shore and Ken. There was a beautiful Golden Retriever and nice young man on shore with us, so Miko enjoyed playing with both. We dinghied over and walked up to see if the Fresh Market was open, but it was not. So, back home to MTB to cook and enjoy our Thanksgiving turkey. We had chef salads, turkey, gravy, mashed potatoes and bread. A nice meal was enjoyed by us both. We spoke to many of our family members this day and friend Judy called us. When in Greenville, we enjoyed Thanksgiving with Judy and her family so we were nostalgic about not being together. Just as dinner was going on the table, Cindy went to check on the kitties. Just as she did, she saw Bailey take a bad crashing fall trying to jump up on a step leading to the bed in their stateroom . Bailey was in bad shape and had become unable to walk on her own. After dinner, we brought her up to the salon with us and petted her for the whole evening. We took a number of pictures of this sweet ole soul…what a good old kitty. We put her back down in her room on a soft pillow before we went to bed. We hoped she would be comfortable and maybe better in the a.m. Before leaving Brunswick, tests showed that her kidneys were shutting down and the vet felt she had some severe arthritis. So, this situation wasn’t unexpected. We were very thankful of all our years together with this wonderful family pet.
Novermber 28, 2008 Friday, Coconut Grove, Fl. – Sadly, Bailey lost both her bowels and her bladder during the night. Ken and Cindy cleaned up after her and washed her off, poor little girl. We knew we had to make the hard decision to do the humane thing and send Bailey to kitty heaven. We used the internet access on our cell phone to find a vet in Coconut Grove. Ken call them a little after 9 a.m. They were great and located across fro the post office where we had bought stamps just two days before. So, we knew we could walk there easily. After our showers, we gave Bailey our hugs, put her in her little carrier and headed to shore with Miko as well. This little kitty has been through a lot with us. She had the most wonderful temperment and was a purr box. Once we got to the Vet clinic, they were great. The Vet gave Miko a check up, lungs clear, no fever so maybe we have finally beaten the kennel cough we have been fighting. Miko weighed in at 8.3 lbs…almost double her weight when we got her. They then shaved little Bailey’s paw and asked if we wanted to stay with her. We did as we wanted to be the last people petting and loving her. They administered the shot that allowed her to slide quietly and calmly into kitty heaven. Her last breath caused her little pink tongue to stick out. It was ironic, as a number of pictures we have taken of her through the years were with her little pink tongue sticking out. Though losing yet another pet this year was so very sad, we knew this was the right thing for our pet. We knew we gave Bailey an amazing, love filled life. We said goodbye, dried our tears and arranged her cremation. Miko got a new collar with a good strong Tuff Lock clasp as she had outgrown her initial one. The clinic personnel were all so nice to us and we were so thankful that this went so smoothly. We were so lucky to have such competent, caring Vet care nearby. On top of great, compassionate care, this clinic’s pricing was surprising. They gave Miko an exam, handled Bailey’s voyage to heaven and sold us a collar for Miko all for $101. Wish we had such affordable care in Brunswick. We took the kitty carrier back to the dinghy, went to get a few things at the Fresh Market $16.02 and headed home. It was a beautiful (though sad) day and all the locals were out on the vessels…there were boats coming and going in every direction, all over Biscayne Bay. We finished adding the security (for Miko) netting down the sides of MTB. And, after drinks aboard, enjoying the sunset, we made a pizza, watched some TV and headed to bed.
November 29, 2008, Saturday – Football rivalry day! Overnight, “only kitty”, Annie came and slept in bed with us. She hadn’t been doing this so far on this trip, so it was nice to wake up to hear her purring. We got up around 6:30 a.m….need to try to do better on this! Ken worked on troubleshooting why the front wash down hose wasn’t working, washed off the awful bird poop we have received aboard since anchoring here. These big weird looking birds have cement like poop…not pleasant. We enjoyed Fresh Market pastries with our coffee. Cindy worked on the log and then we headed to shore to visit the AT&T store and go to Cheesecake Factory’s bakery. A bad front is heading our way and we anticipated being hunkered down for several days until it passed. So, needed to get some sweets to tie us through! Not losing much weight on the leg of our trip! In the Bahamas, bakeries were few and far between….along the coast of Florida, much different situation! We allowed Miko more freedom in walking around the boat without being held, trying to make her into a confident and cautious boat dog. She was doing great though we still worry about her jumping off! FSU/FLORIDA game is today in Tallahassee…..we hoped for an upset that would make our season a success in our minds! We watched a little of the Clemson/USC game….come on Clemson. We are not fond of that Steve Spurrier.