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!!!!