Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Our last blog

After almost 14 years of living on our boat and traveling to all the places we really wanted to go we have decided to swallow the hook and live on dirt.  It has been a wonderful and fulfilling chapter in our lives and quite frankly really brought us together as a team.  People have asked  us for years how do you do it 24-7 tied to the hip? No threats of divorce, killing each other or abandoning ship.  Except for a little bickering now and then we had a great time with many laughs, loving and comraderie. 
Looking in the rear view mirror, as cruisers we never knew when we would see each other again or whether we were seeing someone for the last time.  A few people we loved as we traveled or people back home have died but more often we are separated by the desire to see our next port and next adventure.  We each had our own course to chart and that course could take us anywhere in the world.  Each time we met and gathered with cruisers where we had dinner, loud games of farkel and dominos, snorkeling, barbecues’ or jam sessions were fortunate enough to meet new cruisers and make new friends.  Gathered together in our anchorages we were always waiting for the perfect weather window, doing boat repairs, hiking the islands, touring or just hanging out with the local people in the towns.  Knowing when we finally pulled anchor it could be the last time we saw “our new best friends”.  All these cruisers and local people from the islands and countries have touched our lives and hearts.
So now we will be in a whole new environment with lots of us old folks in an over 55 community with 250 activities.  As usual we will get involved and sucked into all kinds of social gatherings, we just won’t be on a boat.  We love our new house and are having a great time furnishing, since we are starting from scratch we can really decide what we want.  We had spent so many years inheriting furniture from our families but now we can pick our own.  We are spending money like it is going out of style but Craigslist has become my new best friend.  We have found every thrift shop, goodwill and consignment shop in Bradenton and Venice, Fl.  Piece by piece we are making a home out of an empty house.
Sea Schell will soon go on the hard and get a face lift and then go on the market for sale.  I happen to know a good boat broker.  HA HA.  We may eventually get a day sailor or a coastal cruiser but we don’t need our beautiful ocean going vessel for day sailing.  So if you know anyone who is looking for a big sailboat, tell them about us.
This will be my last blog as the real adventure is over but I do want to hear from you all and know what is going on in your life so email, call or come see us when you want to get away.  We are 10 minutes from the beaches, we have a lovely downtown and lots of activities.  Our new address is 416 Andros Ave, Venice, Florida 34285

Stay in good health and enjoy your life.  Melinda
Not the best picture but this is our  manufactured home. the price is right and we have trees, 3 porches and 1300 sq feet. After living on a boat, it seems like a palace.

We have a big backyard with trees as well.  

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Anchoring in the Manatee

Since we got back from Christmas life has not been very exciting.  We spent 9 days working on boat projects while at the Davis Island marina in Tampa and walking 4 miles every day to take off the pounds we accumulated in Arizona.

Onn Jan 10th Harry took the boat back down to the Manatee River to anchor.  It only took him about 5 hours.  I drove the truck that Linda has loaned us.  So now here we are back between Bradenton and Palmetto.  Haven’t done much of anything exciting except walking every day, house hunting, and dinner out with Linda, our truck savior.

We had 2 events on the same night that were a trouble.  We had been gone all afternoon one day only to come back and find the dinghy caught under the dock.  I mean really caught.  The motor was jammed up under the boards that hold the dock up.  We spent a very frustrating hour trying to get it out with Harry even going into the yucky water to work on it but there was no getting it out. (Wish I had taken a picture).   Low tied was not for 2 hours and then we would have to wait another 2 hours.  So at 5pm we left in the truck, got food and went to Linda’s to hold up til the tide went down.  She is such a gracious host.  At close to 10 PM we finally got the dinghy freed but completely full of water to the point off pouring over the sides.  We have one little bilge pump (looks like a bicycle pump) to pump out so Harry pumped for half an hour.  Got back to the boat just as the rain started. 
At 3:15 AM I awoke because of the horrible storm going on outside with extremely high winds and rain.  My phone said tornado warnings, take cover.  I thought, ok what will we do:  take our dinghy to shore in 60 mile/hr winds and heavy rain or just stay put and hope we don’t end up in Kansas.  Bottom line is we did just fine, our wonderful CQR anchor that people make fun of held great.  It was very scary though.  Harry slept through most of it, finally waking up after the tornado threat was gone in our area but there were 4 touch downs in Sarasota and one west of us. 

The last week has been really cold to the point that we finally got our propane heater out to take the chill off.  So glad we have lots of blankets, sweatshirts etc to keep us warm.  This is not supposed to be happening in Florida.

So here we sit in the Manatee River walking every day, searching for a home on dirt, talking about a trip to Cuba before it gets nuts and Harry working on getting his business back up to par and visiting with a lot of old friends who live around here. 

On January 31 we found a home in Venice, Fl with all the old folks in a 55 and over community.  Harry was not excited about living with “old people” but when we found this huge community with 3 pools, 200 activities and a house we loved.  That was it.  These are manufactured homes which we could rent since we really don’t know where we want to permanently settle.  We can spend a year enjoying Venice and getting to know the area and then if we like where we are, we can buy.  So once again we will be living on dirt.  Venice is such a cute town with a ton of things to do and very close to the gulf and beautiful beaches.  We love the downtown.
View of downtown Venice
Another view.  It's amazing we are ending up where my Mom and Dad retired way back in the 70's.

Just another street view of Venice.  There are no empty stores and the town is extremely busy with all the snowbirds.

Our new house.  It have 2 bedrooms, 2 baths, 3 screened in porches and an extra room for Harry's office.  Also a big back yard that the park mows, not us, Yea.

  The fun or scary part is we don’t have a lick of furniture.   We have been to 13 furniture places, mostly consignment shops being overwhelmed with choices and decisions to make.  We have found out we both don’t like the same things so the word compromise keeps coming up.  It’s fun to think we will have all new furniture but scary as hell as to making decisions and paying for it.
The next month will be very busy trying to clean out the boat, get the house set up and buying a car. Yuk.  Harry's sister and husband are coming to Florida for 3 weeks in March so that will keep us busy plus we know they will be helping us move in.  Pay back since in 1974 we helped them move into the house they still live in. 

We will be doing some boating things, like an anchoring out weekend with the SSCA folks up near St. Pete and then taking the boat down to the Venice area.  Not sure what we will do with Sea Schell but somewhere in the near future, sadly, we will have to get her ready to sell.  It’s been 14 years and that’s long enough.  It’s time for a new chapter in our lives.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

November in Florida and Christmas

Well the SSCA Gam was fantastic with almost 300 cruisers attending.  Unfortunately, I was so busy that I forgot to take pictures.  So I spare you that.  For those of you who don’t know what a Gam is.  It’s an old whaling term used when ships would be out to sea for months and actually meet up with another ship.  They would share all the news from back home and share their stories.  Our Seven Seas Cruising Assoc picked up that term for the gatherings of cruisers all over the world for comradery, education and just plan fun.  The one at Melbourne, Florida is the annual one that brings people from all over for 3 days of talks, dinners, flee markets, vendors and just lots of comradery.  We get to see people we have not seen in ages.  Harry and I have gotten very involved as volunteers so we coordinated one big discussion group, then did a “round table” discussion on another topic.  I ran registration and the volunteer assignments.  Harry monitored 1 of the rooms with talks to help with AV stuff etc.  So we were busy.  The picture you see here is us handing down the “radio widows” hat which has had 22 recipients.  One was the last one which I got 3 years ago and now was time to pass it on.  The recipient, Eddie Tuttle, was well deserving of it since her husband, Glen, spends hours each day on the single side band in many different aspects.  It started out as a really funny gag for those of us who have spouses running the radio nets as HAM operators.  Through the years, the cruisers use this type of communication more and more as they travel the world on their boats.  Eileen Quinn, who was a fantastic song writer of sailing songs wrote one called “Radio Widow”.  One of the lines is:  I didn’t lose my love to another, but I lost it to the SSB.  The song is quite funny and the last line she cuts the antenna to the radio.  Just a bit of fun history for you.  Also, early on people were trying to make Wi-Fi antennas on their boat with a pringle can, that’s what started it all.
Here is the hat.  I forgot to get a picture at the Gam on Eddie's head but I had one with it on my head

Jamming at the Gam with Salty Paws and others
After the Gam we stayed another day to visit with Barb and Bill Burgner who use to have a boat next to ours at Twin Dolphin Marina.  We had a great time catching up with each other’s lifes.

Barb and Bill with Harry
 Then off we went down the ICW to Ft. Pierce.  Lind Rains, who is a very close friend and nurse from Bradenton, came to visit for a night.  She and I worked together for years at the 2 hospitals in Bradenton.  We had a great time with her, although the visit was too short.  We also had dinner with Carolyn and Sam who now live in Ft. Pierce.  We caught up with them after not seeing them for year.

Now, we go outside in the ocean to Lake Worth.  It’s about 50 miles with the winds behind us so we had a good downwind run.  We spent several days anchored out there with strong winds and lots of rain.
Outside again to Ft. Lauderdale with another downwind run but high winds and slightly rough seas.  I was glad to get in and anchored.  We ended up spending 5 days there waiting for a weather window but did have lunch with Nick and Jeanie (my brother and wife).  Also, our 4 year old great niece.  Lots of fun,

Beautiful Lilliana, my great niece

We went to Thanksgiving dinner at an upscale restaurant that served a huge thanksgiving dinner with a ton of turkey.  The meal was very reasonable but they made a bundle on the drinks.  We brought turkey home for good old turkey sandwiches the next day.  We walked miles while we were there in the city. 

Turkey dinner at a restaurant looks like a family dinner plate

There idea of Pumpkin Pie
Next stop was a fantastic sail down to the bottom of Key Biscayne to anchor for the night.  It was on a Saturday so going through Miami and Biscayne Bay was like driving on the thru way in NY.  Boats every where speeding, racing ,sailing, kite boarding etc.  We were very relieved to get our anchor down.
We are moving fast now, as we went through Stiltsville the next AM.  It is wild to see houses on stilts out in the middle of the water.  People use to live in them and now they are vacation homes.  We saw several that are occupied. 
Stiltsville house being occupied by a vacationer
We wanted to stop and see some cruising friends in Key Largo but it is too shallow for us and we couldn’t get close enough for us to get together.  We were sorry to have missed Ann and Darrell. 

We did get a treat in Marathon though.  We anchored outside and dinghied into Berdines to meet a cruising couple for dinner.  On our way in we meet a dinghy coming out with Don and Diana in it.  Boy, were we all surprised.  They are very good friends who had their boat next to ours for several years in Bradenton.  They are headed to the Caribbean to follow our adventure.  They say it’s our fault they are doing this adventure.  Reading our blog made them take this on.  We were so glad to see them and had them join us for dinner.  The other couple we met we hear on the Waterway net all the time but had never met.  So the 6 of us had a super time with nonstop talking for 2 hours.  Cruising is just so much fun.
After 3 days of perfect wind and sailing we motored up the west side of Florida.  The seas very flat (very good) but no wind (very bad).  We got spoiled sailing and not having the motor running.  Anyway, had a great trip and anchored between Twin Dolphins and Regatta Pt in the Manatee River.  I love being back and getting caught up with old friends.  Linda, my nursing friend has loaned us her truck.  She and I went shopping, what a treat to get off the boat and actually go to a mall and shop for Christmas.  We had lunch with Judy and Bob Wakelam, who we last saw 2 years ago in Grenada.  Great  catching up.  We saw some folks at TDM that we haven’t seen in 3 years.  Then spent the evening having one laugh after another with Debbie and Ray DaRin.  I really need to take pictures but just forgot.
We spent a week anchored out in the Manatee River mostly seeing old friends, running errands etc.  Then Harry and a friend, Jim took the boat up to Tampa and I drove the loaner truck that Linda gave us.  We will be a month at Margorie Park Marina in a slip.  It’s a nice little marina right down town Tampa on Davis Island.  We walked every day, visited with neighbor boats, went to the Edwards Yacht Sales Christmas Party, SSCA breakfast in St. Pete, and had several different sets of friends over . 

Typical mansion on Davis Island.  It is extremely upscale and fun to see all these houses
We did have a really nice day sailing with friends who charter their sailboat.  That particular day they had a young couple on board.  He proposed to her while under sail.  That was lots of fun with Champagne and all.  The boat is called Lionheart and they do a great job of chartering.

The young couple up front just before he proposed

Jim, the captain on Lionheart
Off to Phoenix, Arizona on Dec 21 for 10 days of fun with both our daughters, son-in-law and Harry’s sister and husband.  It was a great time.  We are all game players so spent many an hour playing pinochle and other games.

Our 2 daughters, Jenny and Karla,  Pat and Buz and Harry

Family picture including Jenny's husband Jon, Karla, Harry and me
 We took a side trip to Tombstone, Arizona to see where Wyatt Earp and Doc Holiday had the shootout at the OK corral.  The whole town is as it was in the 1870’s including authentic saloons.  Lots of fun.

Doc Holiday, Wyatt Earp and his brother

The shoot out


Fun saloon
 Jenny and Jon treated all of us to a night out to see “Straight No Chaser”.  This is a group of 10 men from Indiana U who sing a capella.  They have become quite famous and well worth the chance to see them.  We love their singing and they put on a fantastic show.  If you ever hear of them coming to your area, don’t miss them.  We had a great time.
We are now back in Tampa doing boat projects at the marina. We sat in the cockpit drinking champagne and watching fireworks over Tampa Bay on NY eve.  We did have the pleasure of Dave and Sherry McCampbell, Soggy Paws and SSCA members, come to visit us.  That was lots of fun.  Tampa is a lovely city with lots to do.  They have a beautiful downtown and river walk with tons of restaurants and activities.  We have had a great time walking around the city every day.

Tampa's version of statues all over are trolley cars all painted up.  Harry has his hand on one of them.  Also a part of the Riverwalk

University of Tampa which is beautiful but too far away in this picture to see.  It was an old hotel from the 1800's

A small part of the Riverwalk

New Year's Day at Jeff and Elise with a bunch of SSCA folks
Next stop is back to Manatee River to anchor and then who knows what the future holds!!!!

Friday, November 6, 2015

Very nervous adventure at sea

Once again we were “ motoring” down to Oriental and then Beaufort, NC, some of our favorite cruising ground.  Of course sailing would have been preferred.  Dick and Judy Giddings met us for lunch in Oriental.  We have been friends with them since 2002 when we first met Dick in Lake Worth on our way to the Bahamas.  They are wonderful people and Dick has been the anchor for the morning Cruiseheimer Net for many years.  It’s a radio station on the single side band for cruisers to keep track of others.  We all report in each AM to where we are so we can connect with each other.  Without Dick, I think it would have failed years ago.  He has spent years helping people connect and have safe voyages wherever they may be going.

This was Dick 3 years ago at a picnic.  I forgot to get a picture of them this time.  I thought people who hear Dick on the radio every day as St. Jude would like to put a picture with a voice.

Then Betty and Wayne on Bright Eyes anchored right behind us.  They are friends of ours from SSCA so we spent late afternoon with them.  We ended up spending more time with them in St. Augustine.  Betty has done wonders with the new SSCA website, finally getting it live.  It would not have happened without her.  It’s a long time coming.  When you have a minute just browse the website

We (motored)  20 miles down the river to Beaufort, where we first bought Sea Schell.  We love that little seaport town.  We had dinner with our Caribbean buddy boat friends, Suzi and Ken who were on Journey.  They sold her and built a beautiful home but we have kept in touch.  It was wonderful to see them again.  We had a great evening with them.  We met some new folks in the anchorage who were heading south like us so that was also fun.  Cruising is just a serious of social events we have found.

So now I will tell you of our adventure.  We left Beaufort on Monday to go 400 KN miles in the ocean down to St. Augustine.  We had a great weather report and were sailing fantastically wing and wing with the wind behind us.  Very comfortable.  Great weather.  Tuesday at 5:30 AM Harry woke me up to say we have a serious problem.  The prop shaft had become disconnected from the back of the engine transmission.  It had slid all the way back to the stuffing box and would have made an exit and gone out to sea but because we have a skaghung rudder it blocked the prop from going any further.  For those of you who have no idea what I am talking about, it meant we no longer had any transmission.  As a result of this we had water coming in to the boat in a slow steady stream.  As most of you must realize, it is important to keep the water on the outside of the boat and not the inside.  Our faithful little bilge pump came on about every 20 minutes for 300 miles.  Unfortunately it won’t turn off so we had to keep turning it off but then it would come back when needed, like the little engine that could.

Not a great shot and I forgot to take a picture when the shaft was apart but for those who have no idea what I am talking about, maybe you can see where the black shaft goes into the engine.  That was completely gone.

This is the other end where the shaft come into the boat.  The other end was actually sitting right there at the stuffing box

 At first I was really worried and very nervous.  My stomach was in knots and I had the ditch bag out and ready but as time went on and we were sailing great, the bilge was working and we saw that the shaft was stable; I began to relax a bit.  We decided that we would just sail all the way to St. Augustine and not try to get in somewhere.  First off, we were 50 miles out and it would take 10 hours to just go into a port where we might not be able to find a mechanic.  We knew we would have to be towed in and that would end up in the middle of the night.  So long story short we sailed all the way and except for a couple of changes in the sail and winds we did fine.  We managed the squalls on day 3 and arrived at the entrance to St. Augustine on Thursday at 5:30 where TowBoat US met us to tow us in.  The adventure did not stop at that point.  It was 25 KN winds and very chopping seas; his tow rope broke and left us rocking all over.  After that little episode he finally got us in to safe water but when he went to shorten the 80 feet of rope he got it caught in both his props; so now neither of us has an engine and we were headed straight for a dock head on.  Some man on the dock witness the event and literally flew down the dock so fast I thought he would fly off the end.  He managed to push our 40 thousand lb boat off the dock before it hit the dock and the cement post next to it. I swear I saw him grow his arms longer.

This was the dock we almost hit, right next to the big powerboat on this side at the end.  You can't see the cement piling but it's there
 We missed it by an inch but then we were headed right into the shallow water where we would go a ground.  We dropped an anchor very quickly and all was saved.  The captain on the towboat was busily cutting away rope on the prop and was very thankful we had enough sense to drop an anchor.  He called for another towboat to come and switched out.  They got us safely to a dock and tied up by 8:30.  So what should have taken an hour took 3 hours but finally we were safe.  A beer for Harry and a wine for me was the first order.   A friend asked me later if it was a 3 martini event and I said “Oh, it was a whole bottle of Scotch event”.    But since we had no scotch, the wine was fine.
The mechanic who had been highly recommended by a friend came the next morning with his partner and they had the whole thing put back together in 3 hours.  YEA!!!.  We had seriously thought about Harry trying to put it back together out in the ocean but there were too many cons and not enough pros.
We anchored out in St. Augustine for 2 weeks because we love it there, we were in no hurry and we had a boat load of friends here to see.  We thank Tom and Lori (broker friends of Harry’s who told us about Bo, the mechanic and the excellent marina Oasis).  We spent an evening with them.  Then old friends from South Africa, Holly and John on Shiloh, who we had met in the eastern Caribbean, were here on the hard so we spent an evening catching up with them. 

Holli and John on Shiloh.  Holli is actually Canadian and John is from S. Africa and Harry

Sue Torgensen, a good friend from Connecticut.  They are just starting their adventures to the Caribbean
 Then next night we spent an evening with some other SSCA friends, Sue and Dave, on their boat.

Dave on the left, Sue's husband and another couple, Marcia and Dan on Cutting Class (both retired teachers). I thought that was a great name for their boat.
The big event was the next night with a cruiser gathering at a local bar with very cheap beer and wings.  We were able to connect with John and Shirley on Khaya Moya also from South Africa.  We had become very good friends with them clear thru the Eastern Caribbean.  It was John who had redone our stuffing box where the shaft goes through.  If it had not been for him, we might have been in worse trouble out in the ocean.  We had not seen them for 3 years so that was great fun.  It was great getting together with all of them once again.  The whole group is from South Africa and we have teased them all in fun in the Caribbean that they are the S. African mafia.  There are about 10 boats in Granada that are from there, that we hung out with.  They do like to party.

The cruiser gathering, mostly S. Africans.  At the end of the table next to Harry are John and Shirley.
The group of friends we have here just keeps getting larger with boats arriving from the north and meeting friends of friends.  We partied the first 4 days nonstop.   Then slowed down a bit.  The weather is beautiful and warm.  We did a lot of touring of St. Augustine.  I am including a bunch of pictures of the city for those of you who have not had the opportunity to visit.  It is a beautiful city. 

St. Augustine's statues are obelisks all over town.  I took a picture of 3 of them

The obelisks orginated from the the very large one in the center park in town.  It was built there back in the 1800's as a symbol of the Spanish Constitution.
Beautiful old scenic streets in the downtown area

Just another shot of the streets

This is the city marina right by the Memorial bridge.  It is quite lovely to walk around when you first come ashore

This extremely tall cross was built by the Catholic Church back in the 1800's and is quite a landmark from the water.

Bridge of Lions.  Notice the 2 lions guarding the bridge.  There are 2 others on the other side.

Parked right downtown.  Quite a show piece.  We were unable to figure the date of the Rolls

Also, we toured Flagler College, which is quite unique and really beautiful.  It was built as a very elegant hotel back in 1887 by Henry Flagler.  It was a hotel for the rich and famous.  They arrived “for the season” and stayed 4-5 months.  When they first arrived they paid for the whole season which was about $9000.  Today that would be equivalent to $100,000.  In the 1960’s the hotel had been closed and was reopened as Flagler College for liberal arts.   What a beautiful school for these kids to attend.

Overview of the college which was a very high glass hotel

Not the best shot of the entrance way.  We didn't do a good job there

There were 4 Wooden pillars in the entrance way.  All hand carved
Ceiling dome when you enter.

The dining room where all the kids eat their meals.  My nursing school cafeteria never looked like this

Close up of the murals on the ceilings

The ladies parlor where the women were excorted to wait while the men paid for the reservation.  Women were never to see the men paying.  It was said, if they had known how much the place costs they would never have come.  All very secretive.

Another view of the parlor but check out the clock.  It was one of only a few that was made by Edison.  His signature was the roman numeral 4 on his clocks.  Instead of IV, he put IIII 
This is his other one at the hotel.  Same thing

After our tour we had a wonderful 3 hour lunch with old friends from Palm Coast.  We met the 4 of them cruising back in 3003 and have managed to get together periodically ever since.

Carolee and Jeff on Contessa and Jill and David on Shibumi.  
We just had to stay for Halloween in St. Augustine.  We  heard it’s a big deal here and indeed it was.  Some of the cruisers dressed up but we were boring.  I couldn't get Harry into a dress or green tights.  We did go to town and walked all over to see the fantastic costumes up and down the streets.  There were many pirates and jailbirds and lots of women who liked wearing very skimpy costumes.  The men were enjoying that.  Most of my pictures came out blurry but I did get 3 good ones.

John and Holli who was a "Pink bunny chasing Space Cadet".  She caught her pink bunny

Very spooky

Even spookier

The last night we had another big cruisers gathering of almost 30 of us.  It was a lot of fun but time to exit St. Augustine and be on our way to the SSCA Gam. 

Our last gathering.  I couldn't get all 30 people in

 We “  motored” 9 hours to Daytona.Where we had our sister-in-law’s, sister, Joyce, for dinner in Daytona and then on to Melbourne and the SSCA Gam.  My December blog will cover that.  Everyone have a wonderful Thanksgiving and hopefully will see some of you at the Gam.