Tuesday, December 29, 2009

My Favorite Donor


After a two and a half hour wait at Joe's Stone Crab House, and three martinis, my dear friend Chuck agreed to give me half his liver if I should ever be in need, as well as buy me a house and a Porsche. Now, what are friends for? We cannot disclose why Chuck and Kristin happened to be in Miami, but it has something to do with a country beginning with C and ending in a.

Joe's is an experience. This is the second time we have had this kind of wait here, and it was easier the last time when I was drinking. But as usual, we have a grand time when we are with Chuck and Kristin.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Miami




On the 26th we saw many boats leaving for the Bahamas, but we did not like the forecast, so we accompanied Blue Blazer at 4 in the morning for a trip to Miami. A long day of motor sailing.

The Miami Government Cut is pathetic but easy to enter. The power boats don't pay any attention to us slow sailors, going hell bent for leather and throwing huge wakes right alongside of us. The main channel is closed for security reasons, as the cruise ships are in town, and pleasure craft need to pass south of Dodge Island which poses no difficulty. This is hardly a bucolic setting, and makes the New York Harbor appear like the Garden of Eden.

We had an email from Our Turn, telling us that they were anchored on the South side of the Venetian Causeway. On the way to the Causeway you pass under several bridges, but all are tall or apparently permanently open. After the bridge and before the Causeway, if you hug the Northern side of the "channel"(no markers) you will see no less than 6 feet at low. As you approach you will see some white "no wake" markers, we left these to port. We passed the Miami Yacht Club where many boats were anchored or on moorings, and found Our Turn anchored between Riva Alto and Di Lido in about 10feet.

This is a cool anchorage, very quiet and secluded, with the tall buildings of Miami and the passing cruise ships closeby.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas




We have seen a number of reunions over the last few days. Dancing Sea Horse, a powercat we had never met, pulled along side of First Edition, and Ed and Lizbeth, formerly Aquaelle, yelled greetings. These guys were our cruising mentors two years ago, and were our crossing companions in their sailboat which now sits idle while their new homemade boat has its maiden voyage. Yesterday, we were delighted to hear Blue Blazer hailing us, and we joined Maj-Lis and Don for a cup of tea and conversation, catching up on their boat issues and plans. Needing parts, they are headed for Miami, which along with a crossing to the Abacos is one of our options. Here, Don and Maj model the latest in rainy-day cruising garb.

There is a very iffy weather window to make it to the Northern Bahamas, and our weather forecaster (who is very conservative and my kind of guy), says this short opportunity is fraught with potential problems. Many in the anchorage are planning a Christmas evening departure, nevertheless. Since Chris is off for the holiday, there will be no updated transmission, adding to the drama. We are leaning towards a trip to Miami with Blue Blazer, where friends on Our Turn are hanging out, and waiting for a crossing to the Central Bahamas from there.

On Christmas Eve we continued our long standing tradition of hosting a party, and while we missed the Rosenzweigs, we shared the evening with new friends Tom and Phyllis from Traw La Vie, Blue Blazer, and Rick from Sojourner. Lizbeth and Ed had to pass as one of the things the Lizbeth got for Christmas was food poisoning following a meal at the nearby Waterway Restaurant. Beware!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Clowns to the Left of Me, Jokers to the Right...




Encouraged by an email from our weather forecaster, I set the alarm for 6:20 this morning, arose to a dreary day here at North Palm Beach, and turned on the single side band radio to participate in a weather update. Yesterday's summary indicated the possibility of benign conditions for a crossing to the Bahamas, possibly as early as December 23. Propagation was decent enough to hear some one announcing there would be no Chris Parker transmission today. One of the tribulations of a cruiser.

I considered returning to the warm bunk where Peter continued to sleep off the early stages of a cold. Instead I poured myself a cuppa and sat out on the deck to watch the sun rise. Mornings are so peaceful, even with the wind howling and a front approaching.

We are anchored near Tiger Wood's boat (one of the larger ones shown here)

and Jack Nicholson's, shown below.

Today we will rent a car to run around and do final provisioning, pickup my medication shipped to a friend of one of Peter's former clients, do laundry, and various chores requiring transportation that is available infrequently. Our preliminary plan is to leave Tuesday for a 12 hour trip to Miami, and wait there for the right weather window to cross the Gulfstream.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Let's Hear it for the Chinese Hamsters!


In 1948, at least two momentous events occurred, as far as my life is concerned. One, I entered the world, and two, Chinese hamsters were imported into the US. These little creatures have volunteered their ovaries so that my latest medication can be made. Using recombinant DNA technology, some wonderful laboratory nerd messin' with the hamsters developed Enbrel, known as a biologic, to treat moderate to severe rheumatoid arthritis. The cost for a 90 day supply of this drug greatly exceeds my entire college tuition (back in the day), so I am thankful for my retirement package which included healthcare benefits.

We had a fruitful visit to Dr. Kramer, who dished up the prescription for Enbrel, and sent us off not to return for 60 days. So, when weather permits and my new medication arrives, we head for the Bahamas.

Once again, thank you hamsters and the National Bank of Canada.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Happy Chanuka to All



We arrived at Lake Worth by North Palm Beach on Tuesday the 8th; this is the usual jumping off point for boats crossing to the Abacos, or for those headed further South for a trip to the Exumas. For us, it is the spot at which we will fly home to see my rheumotologist, the results determining our next destination. I have had no progress since my last visit, but no further deterioration either. So, there is a bright side.

Last evening we celebrated the first night of Chanuka aboard First Edition, and we send greetings to all. It is a lonely time despite being tucked in a harbor with at least 50 othr boats. Wish you were here!
Above, Peter (appearing like a miner with his reading head lamp) shows off a gift from Beth.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Peck Lake


We hoisted our anchor at 0700 and headed out the Ft. Pierce inlet, only to be greeted by huge seas breaking over the bow. Thinking this may have been related to the ebb tide and an opposing wind, we continued out of the inlet but decided to give up; the seas were just a washing machine. We hailed Troubadour, who had wisely decided to take the ICW route, and were enticed to join them with promises of the tranquility of Peck Lake anchorage, abundant wildlife, and a beach walk. We turned around.

Five hours later we passed the St. Lucie inlet and rounded marker 19 (incorrectly on the North side, the South side is recommended) and despite warnings of water depths of 3.5 feet, found no issue for our 5 1/2 foot draft. Once in the anchorage, water depths generally exceed 10 feet. (Pass marker 19, head 060M until you choose your spot. No problem mon.) After lunch, we dinghied in and had a short walk to the Atlantic beach, where I found this recently deceased Measled Cowrie and Nancy collected shells for a mobile. We could hear the pounding surf from the anchorage, assuring a rested sleep.

Until the arrival of trillions of no-see ums, all ignoring our screens and disturbing the final episode of John Adams. All night long we swatted, and eventually hid under the sheets, where we found no refuge.

So, this is a great anchorage but I would not opt for it unless there was a steady breeze a-blowing.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Vero Beach

We lifted anchor at 0805 and slipped out of St. Augustine bound for our 153 mile trip to the Ft. Pierce inlet. We had wind on the nose or not enough wind to sail for most of the way, although we did get four hours of pure sailing in, with nearly flat seas all the way. The above shot is a sunrise underway, another one of the joys of sailing. We arrived at Ft. Pierce almost 24 hours later, averaging 6.3 knots for the trip. Then, we motored another 15 miles on the ICW to reach Vero Beach, arriving around noon.

Vero is known as "Velcro Beach" because once you are here, it is hard to pull yourself away. There is no anchoring at Vero, instead, the City Marina provides moorings, where you must raft up if space is required, up to 3 boats per mooring. We rafted with Troubadour. (I think the mooring fee is about $10 a day, there are great showers and an on-site laundromat and captain's lounge with a book exchange and TV.)
Vero provides a free mini-van bus that will take you along a route that is located by any service you can think of: Publix, ABC Liquors, West Marine, Lowes, Sams Club, all the cruiser hot spots. And, there is a fashionable shopping area along the beach where you can drop some serious dough.

A nice place to visit, and worth the trip North up the ICW before heading offshore.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

St. Augustine






We continued down the ICW, seeing some shallow water early in the trip, close to low tide, and running hard aground due to pilot error. Fortunately we were able to power our way off fairly quickly. Leaving at 0830, we were anchor down at St. Augustine by 1430, right by the Bridge of Lyons which is under reconstruction. We had hoped to spend a couple of days here to tour the fort (jeesh, so sorry to have missed this), the old architecture, and the tourist traps lining the nearby streets. But nasty winds are forecast


in a few days, and since we want to go offshore for the next leg, we only have this afternoon to see America's oldest city.
(The holding here is not the best, and the better of two anchorages has lousy Northeast protection, and of course, NE winds are in store for us.)

As the sun set the shoreline lit up with holiday decorations to provide quite the setting for cocktail hour. We hope to return here some day to give this city the attention that it is due.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Fernandina Beach to Ft. George River



After leaving St. Mary's we had about an hour trip over to Fernandina Beach, where we chose to anchor out. The holding here is good and we think all the fuss about the current is overblown. We walked into town where Black Friday was in full bloom, and then had dinner at Gennaro's with Blue Blazer. Catching up with Don and Maj-Lis has been great. We so hope we see them again down the road. Incidentally, there is quite a collection of our feathered friends always waltzing the docks here.

The next day we decided to do a short trip to Fort George River, allowing us to dink in to Fernandina's farmers market. Worth the trip. Several hours later we lay down the anchor in front of the Kingsley Plantation on the Ft. George, dinked in, and took a tour of the Kingsley House and slave quarters.

This is a beautiful spot to anchor in (pictured at the top). Lots of depth once you get past the entrance, which is accomplished by making a range of the ICW marker and the River marker, then it is a cinch. All was peace and quiet until about 10 at night when locals in those flat bottomed boats that have headlights like cars starting causing a ruckus in the marsh, gunning their engines and speeding back and forth by the anchorage. The only explanation we could come up with was they were hunting gator.

Friday, November 27, 2009

75 Side Dishes at St. Mary's




Seventy five boats at anchor and at the marina participated with the locals in the St. Mary's Thanksgiving Pot Luck. The town provided the turkeys and hams and we boaters each brought a dish to share and helped to set up tables and chairs. Our friends Don and Maj-Lis drove from Fernandina to join the party and it was great to see them again.

It was incredible how such potential bedlam could be so organized. Cudos to Ann on Sea Tramp and the Seagull Hotel and Restaurant for their efforts.

By the way, the anchorage is huge. Boats arriving as late as today would still have ample choices to set the hook.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

St Marys, GA



We had hoped to get to Vero Beach to join our friends Jay and Diana from Far Niente for their cruiser Thanksgiving blast. But, lots of fog and thunderstorms combined with a general need to slow down have led us to St. Marys, about 5 miles up river from Cumberland Island. (I know this slowing down thing must crack you working folk up.)

This is our first time here, and as it turns out, the town of St. Marys throws a bash on Thanksgiving Day for the cruisers. And, being cruisers, a week long party is created around this occasion, with a pot luck hors d' cocktail party every night starting on Sunday, transportation to the laundromat and food stores, and various random get togethers.

We hiked around town with Mike and Barbara on Elan, whom we met in Block Island, and had cocktails on the ever-entertaining Sojourner, with the best cockpit in town. We met Rick and Linda at Lake Worth, FL two years ago. At this gathering we reconnected with Sandy and John on Moonstruck (met at Beaufort, NC two years ago), and Sherry and Bill of My Whim (met the prior evening). We have seen the boat My Whim at several different places from Sarah Creek, VA to Sag Harbor, NY over the past year and are happy to have finally connected.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Cumberland Island, Georgia






We reluctantly left Brunswick where Claire and Paul on Our Turn showed up, and we had a marvelous time getting reacquainted and spending some quality time. The highlight of this company was an excellent dinner at Cargo which is everything it is cracked up to be. Paul had the most unique dish of us all, lobster macaroni and cheese. I think my granddaughter would have loved it.

We took the outside route to get to St. Mary's Inlet, and hung a right to get to Cumberland, which we had heard so much about. Cumberland Island used to be owned as a winter getaway by the Carnegies, who had their buddy Tommy Edison install a power plant (resulting in Cumberland being only the third city in the nation to boast of same). In recent decades most of the island was deeded over to the US Government who wisely created a National Park. You can anchor offshore, camp, or ferry over for a day's visit and enjoy this natural beauty.

We dinghied to the Sea Camp and took a 45 minute hike through the forest laden with Spanish moss and nature's delights. We headed to the museum where we met the ferry group and participated in a Ranger talk that focused on the Carnegie mansions. We then walked through the sand dunes complete with wild horses to the beach, where there is abundant shelling of Giant Atlantic cockles and Common Atlantic Abra. All told this is about a 4 hour hike, easy if it is low tide when you can walk on the hard sand. You will need more time for meandering and a picnic lunch if you choose.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

St Simon Island



We had a nice visit to Aunt Dar's, where we delivered Chinese food otherwise unavailable out in the forest. I cooked and froze up many dinners to appease her appetite and my guilt, Peter powerwashed the house and cleaned the gutters, and we determined that Dar needed a new drainfeld. An expensive visit. We found Dar to be in good shape and spirits, perhaps due in part to the Yankee World Series victory.

Upon our return to Brunswick, we took the opportunity to tour around. We spent an afternoon at nearby St. Simon's Island. This is a typical tourist town, lots of little restaurants and shopping opportunities, where we completed Willow's Chanuka/Christmas package.

We ventured to the exclusive Jekyll Island, but as it was late in the day, we found the $5 fee to get into the community a bit steep, and frankly, offensive.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Why Disney is Worth Every Penny


Pictured is King Arthur, chosen from the crowd during a skit at Epcot. (Peter must have had regal looks.) Willow and Dave were already seated at the curb for a bird's eye view of the performance. Had this not been the case, I am sure Peter would have passed on this acting opportunity.

As King Arthur was referred to in the story being put forth by the moderator, it was Peter's role to shout out: "A cha cha, that's me baby" (a la Jimmy Durante for us old timers). His pronouncement was obviously received by his granddaughter with much delight.

On Sunday Peter got a call from his granddaughter, repeating his now famous King Arthur line. All day Peter walked around with a big smile on his face, and his performance and Willow's call will always warm my heart.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Disney!



We just had an incredible experience with our granddaughter and her parents, as we spent two days at Disney with them, breakfasting with the princesses, experiencing the Bippidy Boppody Salon, meeting and greeting all of the Disney characters, the fantastic parades and FIREWORKS, Beth, like you have never seen. Willow had the most marvelous time celebrating her fourth birthday, the most perfect age to share this magical experience.