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February, 2010:

Annapolis Friends

Living in a warm climate in the winter, is an incentive for anyone to make a special effort to come for a visit with us. Overnight guests were a rarity in Indiana, but we have delightedly found out that will not be the case now that we live in Florida.

Our first overnight guests arrived three days after we closed on the house. To accommodate their stay, we borrowed a very small table and four chairs from our friends, Ed and Cheryl Byers, as well as an air mattress and a few other items. We brought two mattresses from the boat to finish the necessary items needed to stay at the house.

Kirby and Roberta Mehrhof are friends from Annapolis, Maryland. We met them while we were boat slip neighbors at Port Annapolis Marina. We soon became the best of friends. Many times, we have stayed at their lovely condo that overlooks the Chesapeake Bay, when we have gone to Annapolis to open or close our boat for the sailing season. Their visit gave us the opportunity to gladly reciprocate their hospitality.

Sleeping on boat mattresses were nothing out of the ordinary for Kirby and Roberta, as they remain avid sailors as well. The only thing missing was the sway of the boat and hearing halyards clanging. (Halyards are the lines used to raise a sail and if they are not tightly secured, they will make a clanging sound. In a marina, usually, there are halyards clanging…music to most sailor’s ears, and probably terribly annoying to power boaters.)

Our small dinner table was just large enough to hold our dinnerware. The four of us are so long legged, frequent bumps against the supports under the table, kept everything on the table jiggling. Our dinner table served as a game table to play Parcheesi, which was the evening’s entertainment (no TV or DVD’s) . Roberta taught Gary and I how to play Parcheesi during a stay at their home. I won’t repeat what she called me once while we were playing the game and I sent one of her men home. Suffice it to say, “She is a sailor.” I forgave her and have repeated the phrase to her a few times since. All in good fun. Accompanied by tunes on the radio, a dance in our ballroom, (empty living room) was also part of our first evening with overnight guests.

We had a wonderful afternoon sailing White Swan on the Indian River Lagoon. Since the Mehrhof’s have sailed for years, the sail itself was no big deal to them, but like us, they enjoyed being on the water, the sunshine, and the breeze. The highlight of the sail was seeing dolphins dance through the surface of the water. They are always a delightful attraction.

One afternoon was spent going to Cocoa Beach, which is only a 20 minute drive north of the marina where White Swan is docked. Kirby wanted to go to Ron Jon Surf Shop, since he had not been there since the 70’s. It was fun seeing all the surfing stuff and Gary thinks we might have to take up body boarding sometime in the near future. Would someone please remind this guy how old we are??? Oh well, if he really wants to try it, of course, “I’m in.”

Ron Jon Surf Shop at Cocoa Beach

We visited Historic Cocoa Village and ate pizza for lunch at an eclectic little café. We then walked the small village, perusing some of the little shops. When the Swinehart’s were here, they went to Historic Cocoa Village and brought us back a bottle of Tuscany Herb Olive Oil, purchased at “from Olives and Grapes“, a little shop on Oleander Street. We found the shop and made our own purchases of flavored oils and vinegars. If you are ever in Cocoa, this is one shop we think you would love. Numerous flavored oils and vinegars are available to sample and/or buy. They even sell a chocolate vinegar. Delicious…

We stopped by a channel near the marina that usually has manatees in it. We were not disappointed and saw quite a few. They look like big rocks under the water and the only thing that rises above the water are their nostrils as they come up for air. This winter has been hard on the manatees with the unusually cold water temperatures and they have been congregating in the channels to stay warm. One day during the cold snap, three manatees were found dead and pulled from the Indian River Lagoon. One was just a baby. This endangered species is the most gentle mammal on the earth and it’s so sad to hear of their demise just because the water is too cold for them to survive in it.

An evening was spent with other Annapolitan boaters who spent the winters at Telemar Bay Marina, Pat and Tom Dennis, and Doug Dangerfield. Also joining us, was Matt Salantino’s recently wedded wife, Susan. Susan lived in New York and she and Matt were married on Valentine’s Day in Cape Cod. She now lives on their boat and the two of them plan to circumnavigate beginning this December. Matt was in Asia, working, while the eight of us enjoyed happy hour, (which is always two hours), and then we went to a Mexican restaurant for dinner. Mexican restaurants always seem to operate at a high decibel noise level, and our group contributed to it nicely.

The last afternoon of our visit with Kirby and Roberta was spent touring Historic Downtown Melbourne. We had coffee in a quaint little French café while exploring the area. We found Grimaldi Candies, where they make chocolate covered potato chips. They are “to die for”. Seriously. Gary and I have had to put reins on ourselves to keep from going back again and again for more.

Walking through the old downtown, gave us the opportunity to check out all the restaurants and decide where to go for dinner that evening. We made reservations to return to an Italian restaurant with an enticing menu. Suffice it to say, the presentation of the menu was the best thing they had to offer. The whole dinner experience was about as bad as it could be. It was so bad, we ended up laughing at how comical it became as one thing after another contributed to the charade. Oh well… as our dear friend, Ted Azbill says, “That’s life in the big city.” And we chose not to allow the incident to ruin precious moments together with good friends.

Kirby and Roberta enjoying the ocean

Gary and Jean stopping to smell the roses






Of course, we had to take time to walk on the beach and enjoy the sun, sand, and the majestic roar of the ocean. Gary and I have vowed to occasionally take time out of our (still) busy days, and go for a walk on the beach. That’s how we “stop and smell the roses”…


Mother Clifton’s 82nd Birthday

Gary, Mother "Reva Clifton", and Jean

While home in Indiana in February, we traveled from Indianapolis to my sister’s home in northern Indiana, very near the Michigan border, to go to my mother’s 82nd birthday party. We were supposed to have flown out of Orlando, Florida the day before the date of her party, but due to winter storms throughout the country, that flight was canceled. So, we ended up flying out of Florida the day of the party, and we were unsure we would even be able to make it in time. With that in mind, we didn’t call to let the family know we were coming until we were about a half hour away from my sister’s house. By then, a lot of the guests had left, but my sister was able to delay Mother from leaving. And, my brother and his family, who live in Iowa, delayed their departure until we could get there and see them for awhile. Mother was elated, as we knew she would be, when she saw us come through the door. She is such an awesome, Christian lady, an inspiration to all of us. And, she is well worth the effort it took to celebrate another birthday with her: delayed flight home from Florida, taxi to our Indy home, throwing our overnight bags in the car and driving three hours north to get there.

A little history on this special lady: (Before I do, I want to state a line that my sister coined, and she let’s me use it as well: “My mother is a saint, and I’m just like my dad.” I wouldn’t want anyone to think I can measure up to my mother’s standards. After all, I am a sailor.) My mother, first and foremost displays the most Christian attributes of any person I have ever known. She is loving and gracious. She never meets a “stranger”. She is very strong, not physically, but mentally and spiritually. She is caring, kind, generous, beautiful, smart, talented in many ways, witty, playful, and the list could go on and on. As I’ve gotten older and wiser myself, I realize she is not perfect and that’s okay. It doesn’t make her less of a saint in our eyes.

Mother was diagnosed with cancer for the first time in the 1970’s. At that time, she was sent home to die after her uterine cancer spread to the bone in her right arm. Some time later (I can’t remember exactly the interval of time), I just happened to be with her for a follow-up appointment when the attending physician greeted Mother with, “ Well, Mrs. Clifton, I didn’t expect to see you again.“ She never told any of us, she was “sent home to die”. The doctor also showed us on the x-ray where the cancer had eaten away about 4 inches in length of bone in her right arm and it was being held together by a small amount of bone left untouched from the ravage of cancer. Then the doctor said, and I quote, “You are a miracle.” Since then, she has had various kinds of cancer during nine different episodes. Presently, she is suppose to be dying of Multiple Myeloma, diagnosed three years ago. At the time of the diagnosis, the doctor said she would probably live a few months to a few years. She is the healthiest, happiest, dying person I know. She plays Wii with the grandkids and great grandkids. Bowling is her forte. She crochets like crazy, even with her fragile right arm. Oil painting is one of her accomplished hobbies. She loves to read and thanks to cataract surgery and reading glasses, she can read as much as she desires. Gardening vegetables and flowers are probably her favorite pleasures in life. She has always loved seeing “anything” grow. I remember when the five of us children were young, she would take us for “nature walks”. It seemed she knew the name of every tree and weed in the woods. Now, I wish I’d paid more attention to her teachings and learned the names of the flora and fauna, as Gary and I have a passion for all of nature as well.

My mother was “green” before “green” was cool. From my earliest memories, I can recall her awareness of our fragile eco-system. She always conserved water and electricity. Many times, I remember going into the kitchen and she would be busy at her task in the dim natural light. Of course, in my ignorance, I’d switch on the light and would say something stupid like, “ Why don’t you have the light on, Mama? How can you see what you’re doing?“  Oh, to be young again, and know it all…

She recycled before most people knew what recycling was all about; stocking up tin cans, plastic jugs and newspapers on the back porch until she or when she was physically unable, someone else could deliver her stash to the community recycle bins. Years ago, when she frequented an Amish health food store, she saved egg cartons and plastic containers for the Amish to reuse in their store. Nothing was ever wasted in our home. Of course, with five children to feed, clothe and shelter, there wasn’t much left over to waste.

 I remember being a little embarrassed of my mother’s appearance when I was a teenager. When I became a mother myself, I realized my mother’s “old clothing” was due to the fact she put her children’s needs before her own, and concentrated on keeping all of us nicely clothed. After all her children left the nest, she became one of the best dressed women in town. Yeah, for Mama. And, she still loves to shop…

I know I can speak for the whole family and everyone who knows her, “We have been so blessed to have Reva Clifton for all these years. We hope to celebrate many more birthdays with her.”
















Back Home Again In Indiana 2/13-21/10 and then Florida

Our government’s requirement for all citizens to file income taxes can really put a kink in the cruising lifestyle. So can unexpectedly buying a home in Florida. We delayed our trip to the Bahamas for three reasons. The two aforementioned reasons, and also, the weather has just been lousy. Finally, the weather has started getting to be almost back to the norm for Florida, presenting nice seventy-ish degree days on this side of the state. Even though it’s been colder than normal, we still like it better here, than having to shovel snow in Indiana. Speaking of that, we’ve been told our wonderful neighbors in Indianapolis have been keeping our driveway clear of snow all winter. I don’t know the extent of each one’s participation, but our hearty thanks and appreciation go to Will, Lee and Jerry, and possibly David and Rod.

Going home to Indiana to take care of filing our income taxes and take care of other business, enabled us to spend time with family and a few friends. Not only did we get to attend Mother’s birthday party and see siblings, nieces, nephews, grandnieces and grandnephews, we also had opportunity to see my two sons, their wives and two grandchildren. We had a great week visiting with everyone we could squeeze into such a short time. Last minute packing to fill the car with household items needed in Florida, ended the trip all too soon. We left a day earlier than originally planned because bad weather was approaching the state again, and by doing so, we were able to stay ahead of the snow all the way southbound. If there is something I hate worse than shoveling snow, it is driving in it. Gary heard a story about a man who tied his shovel to the top of his car and started heading south. Someone asked him why a shovel was tied to the top of his car and the man replied, “ I’m going to keep driving south until someone asks me, ‘What is that thing you have tied to the top of your car?’ “ We thought about tying a shovel to the top of White Swan before we headed south, but that is beyond our scope of imagination of acceptable boater’s behavior.

We left Indiana the 21st, giving us plenty of time to travel to Florida and then prepare for the closing of our new home on February 26th. Retirement, suddenly felt like “work” again, with all the necessary things to do to purchase a home: seek insurance for it, inspections, etc., etc,. etc. After the closing, we immediately began working on the house doing numerous repairs (nothing major), cleaning and landscaping. We worked most of the month of March on the house, preparing it for the move of furniture, etc. from Indiana, which we will do after we return from the Bahamas. We decided, we are not giving up our goal of going to the Bahamas with White Swan. That’s what this whole journey is suppose to be about. Not buying a house.

However, all it took for Gary to convince me to buy a home down here, was to ask one time, “Do you think you could live in Florida?” While traveling around the Melbourne area, he started thinking about the housing market being in a slump and wondered if we could find something we liked at the right price. So, we decided to work with a realtor and started looking. The first house we made an offer on was not accepted by the seller and we are so thankful, because we love this house even more. Mostly, because it has privacy in the backyard, and there is enough yard to landscape and have flower beds, and bird feeders. The layout of this house if very much like our home in Indianapolis, so we totally feel at home here. We both really like the Melbourne area and our new home is less than 30 minutes away from the marina where we are keeping White Swan. The Atlantic Ocean is about 10 miles away. We wanted to be inland enough to not be as threatened by the hurricanes as we would be if we lived closer to the ocean. Taxes and insurance are prohibitively higher nearer the ocean as well.

As with all decisions in life, we prayerfully hope we made the right one in buying this house. We certainly had no intentions of buying a house in Florida when we started our journey down the ICW last November, but here we are, and we are liking it…















































































































Indy Neighbors Visit Us At Indian Harbour Beach 2/6-13/10

De’d and Jerry Swinehart live across the street from us in Indianapolis. More than neighbors to us, they are very good friends. With the weather so gloomy in Indy, it wasn’t hard to convince them to come and see us in Florida. Our week together went by way too fast and we all felt like there was more we wanted to do while they were here.  More than once, I’ve heard it said , “If you are visiting somewhere that you never intend to revisit, do everything there is to do there. If it is a place you would like to revisit, don’t worry about doing everything there is to do.” Good advice. De’d and Jerry plan on returning someday and we’ll have more opportunities to explore the attractions of this area.

De'd and Jerry at the beach on Valentine's Day

While they were here, we went to the ocean as much as possible. Walking the beach and looking for seashells was one of our favorite activities.  We had a special walk on the beach on Valentine’s Day, and De’d and I received valentines in the sand drawn by our sweeties. 

A person who lives locally told De’d about a restaurant on the beach, Sun on the Beach , locally called SOB (seriously); and after driving to it to have breakfast there, we realized we’d been walking right by it while walking on the beach. SOB, the restaurant, is hard to see from the beach because the sand dunes conceal it; but once we knew it was there, we were able to find it from the beach and stop in for a cup of hot chocolate one chilly day while we were walking. De’d and Jerry have traveled abroad extensively and they too realize the value of talking to the “locals” regarding the best places to go to.

Another restaurant we found by talking to locals was an Irish pub in Melbourne. Since the Swineharts have been to Ireland, they were intrigued by the Irish menu offering typical Irish fare. However, the preparation of the food was not up to Ireland’s unique standards, but satisfied our pallets nonetheless. Meg O’Malley’s Irish Pub has historically served a cup of bean soup for the price of 18 cents, so of course we all had to experience this delicious tradition.

Earlier this week, we got to see the launching of the space shuttle, Endeavor, transporting the astronauts who are

Launching of Space Shuttle Endeavour

going to attach another segment to the space station. The first morning it was suppose to launch, it was scrubbed due to strong winds. After getting up for a 4:30 AM launching two days in a row, we were relieved and delighted it was a successful launch on the second day. All four of us were thrilled we were able to go just one mile down to the beach to see this spectacular sight. From Satellite Beach, we could not see the shape of the space shuttle, but to see the huge ball of fire and the trail it made very near where we were observing it at the beach, was worth getting up at such an ungodly hour. We also got to see the launching of the unmanned solar satellite that was sent to observe the sun. It was hard to see it from where we were on Satellite Beach. It looked like a shooting star instead of a huge ball of fire. Even though it’s presentation was not as dramatic as that of the space shuttle, it was still awesome to see it. ‘

De'd and Jerry's first sail

By asking the Swinehart’s what the highlights of their time at Indian Harbour Beach were, I found out one of the main ones was their time spent sailing with us on White Swan. It was the first time either of them had sailed and they enjoyed every minute. There was a light breeze on Indian River the day we sailed, so we used the “screecher”, which is a sail designed to use in light wind. We did not hoist the main sail and with just the screecher we had a lovely sail moving two to three knots. It was a good day to take out friends who have never sailed before.

For happy hour that evening, we went to our boat neighbors, Pat and Tom Dennis, mainly so De’d and Jerry could see what the inside of a mono hull sailboat looks like. I tried to explain what it’s like to them before we went, likening it to going down into a cave. This description is not meant to be derogatory, it’s just different than going aboard a catamaran. They agreed with my description and the decent into the Dennis’ salon allowed us an evening filled with laughter, and good refreshments.

Not only were, De’d and Jerry here for Gary’s birthday celebration, they also went with us to Ed and Cheryl Byers’ home to watch the sadly defeated Colts in the Super Bowl.  Periodic phone calls to Pat, our dear Saint’s fan, made it an even more fun evening, until the  premonition of the “fallen-cake Colts” (see Gary’s B’day blog) came to the glory of Pat’s fruition.

One day was spent driving one hour north of Indian Harbour Beach to the Kennedy Space Center. I had gone there

De'd, Jerry and Gary at Kennedy Space Center

years ago, and so had De’d and Jerry, but Gary had never been there. So, though we all enjoyed the attraction, Gary really enjoyed his first time experience there. Being there brought a renewed sense of pride in what our nation has accomplished in the area of space exploration. Personally, it saddens us that our nation is planning on discontinuing the NASA program.

On the way to the Kennedy Space Center, we stopped by the US Customs office in Cape Canaveral and got our “secret codes” we’ll need when we return from the Bahamas. We had to present our passports and boat decal and documentation to the customs officer to get our personal code numbers that we will call in to the customs office when we re-enter a U.S. port. By so doing, we don’t have to physically check in to re-enter the country. This code is good for life so we won’t have to have it renewed. Our boating friends told us about this easier method of going through customs with the boat. Gary and I continue to learn about what we need to make our Bahama passage successful. There’s more to the preparation for this leg of our journey than just “we are going to the Bahamas”.

Also, in talking to others who have been to the Bahamas, we realized we needed another set of charts that are more detailed than what we previously purchased, We are continually amazed at how much we DON’T know. You’d think at our age, we would know it all. NOT!!! This trip has not only taught us more about sailing, but also a lot about geography, history, cultures, flora, fauna and sea life.



Gary’s Birthday 2-6-10

Gary and Colts banner on White Swan

Gary’s special day started with a bike ride to the beach after enjoying coffee in bed.  It was a really windy day, but the sun was shining and that always makes for a good day.

We put up a big Colts banner on the boat to display our allegiance to our Super Bowl team.  Pat Dennis, who is our dear friend and dock neighbor, will be coming to Gary’s party tonight, and she is from New Orleans.  We have seen the Saint’s paraphernalia on her and around her for the last two weeks, and we have heard “Who dat…” a bizillion times.  It’s our time to hype up for tomorrow night’s big game.  Decorations for the party tonight will be Colt’s blue; and of course, the cake will be honoring Gary’s 70th birthday AND his favorite team.

Much of the day was spent getting ready for Gary’s party.  Naturally, Gary spruced up White Swan on the outside as I did the same on the inside.   Cleaning is always a precursor to company coming.  When my son, Kyle, was a little guy, he used to always ask me, “Who’s coming, Mom?” when I’d be on a cleaning frenzy.  Some things never change, Kyle.

Clockwise starting with Gary, Tom, Pat, Matt, De'd, Kevin, Cheryl, Ed, Roxanne, Jerry

Yesterday, our boat slip neighbor, Cheryl Byers,  took me around town to buy all the necessary items for the party. 

Gary, Tom, Patricia, Matt, De'd, Kevin, Roxanne, Karen(the dock master)

Plus, she let us borrow an extra table, etc. that we needed for the party.  The evening of the party, her husband, Ed, helped Gary grill the hamburgers.  Ed used the grill on his boat, which is right next to ours, as Gary used our grill.   Two grills were definately needed, as boat grills are quite small.  Not like a grill you would have at your home.  The marina actually has a rule that you cannot grill while docked, due to the chance of a fire, which would be devastating with so many boats in close proximity to each other.  It just so happened that I invited the dock master and her boyfriend to come to the party with one stipulation…they not tell on us for “breaking the rule”.  They came, and they didn’t tell.  She’s become a good friend in the process…

Gary with birthday cards

The wind remained strong all day, and the temperature prohibited us from enjoying the outdoors during the party.  So we all squeezed into White Swan and had a grand time.  Gary was very surprised by all the birthday cards he received from all of you.  Thank you so very much.  Pat and Tom Dennis helped me collect them from the office mailbox and they kept them until the day of the party.  Karen, the dockmaster, was in on the surprise too by keeping them at the office until they could be secretly picked up by Pat, Tom or myself.  Gary didn’t take the time to read them the evening of his party, but he enjoyed doing so as he drank his morning java in bed the next day.

So what do a bunch of adults do for entertainment at a birthday party while crammed into a boat, you might ask.  Well, I’ll be glad to tell you.  When you are a boater, there is always an endless array of boating stories to share, and the tales become more exciting with each reminiscence.  Not that any of us would deliberately lie, mind you.  We just like to tell our stories in a manner to which it delights our audiences.

Nice cake, yes???

Gary opened his presents, consisting mainly of COLTS shirts, to HIS utter elatedness and PAT’s utter disdainment.  She wasn’t real thrilled about the big COLTS cake either until Gary was asked to turn it a certain way so we could get pictures and it accidently slipped off the cardboard tray and landed on the floor.  Gary always finds a way to make a party memorable.  The incident was hilarious.  Blue icing was everywhere.  The Saint’s fans at the party suddenly became alive with the premonition that due to Gary’s fallen cake, the COLTS themselves were sure to “fall” at the Super Bowl.  And they couldn’t wait to share in the glory of eating the fallen COLTS cake.  So, we threw the broken pieces back onto the cardboard tray, stuck the decorations randomly back into it, put the candles back on it, lit the candles, sang the traditional happy birthday song to Gary, and then sliced it and we ate the whole thing.  Pat and Tom each ate two pieces, as they were so sure of it’s symbolism of the COLT’S  doom.


The "Fallen Colts" cake

It was a great celebration for a wonderful man.  As most  of you know, Gary is fortunate to be alive, having survived a brain aneurysm ten years ago.  So, not only was his 70th birthday special, they all are special.  To have our Indy neighbors, De’d and Jerry Swinehart,  fly in to celebrate with us, made the day perfect.

Friends at Indy Eyes remember Gary's birthday

We went to Indianapolis for a week in February, and not only did we get to celebrate my mother’s 83rd birthday while there, but also, Gary was surprised by our former office staff at Indy Eyes with a lovely birthday cake.  Thanks to Dr. Larry Hemingway (not present for the picture), Susan, Roberta, Debbie, Teresa and Carol (not present for the picture).  You dear people are the very best.  We are so blessed you remain a part of our lives.  THANKS.