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May, 2010:

The Finale… For Now…


First rule in going offshore: Check the weather the day before. Second rule in going offshore: Check the weather the night before. Third rule in going offshore: Check the weather the morning of going offshore. For the third day in a row the weather was suppose to be good for going offshore, so we sailed our longest offshore trip yet, going from Lake Worth to Ft. Pierce, logging 55 statute miles. That’s about the same distance as going to the Bahamas. In fact, we followed our friends aboard Lady Bug and Lily Pad via SPOT, and they arrived at West End, Grand Bahama Island about the same time we arrived at Ft. Pierce, Florida. Congratulations to all of us for successful offshore passages, especially our friends in the Bahamas. YEAH for them. We emailed them our congrats; and expect to get updates from them frequently so we can live vicariously through them, since we didn‘t get to go.

We left our anchorage at Lake Worth at 7:30 this morning. We wanted to make it to our anchorage for tonight at Ft. Pierce before possible afternoon thunderstorms arose. The local newscaster reported the possibility of thunderstorms arriving around 2:00 PM this afternoon. The prediction regarding the wind was it was to remain light all day, so we weren’t overly concerned. Who am I trying to fool…Gary wasn’t overly concerned. I was concerned. My other concern was regarding making it safely into the Ft. Pierce Inlet, as I had been told it is not a good inlet to navigate. Hindsight: sometimes you need to experience things yourself and make your own opinion regarding what inlet is a comfortable waterway for you, or what marina is good for you, or what anchorage is a good for you, etc. We consider other’s opinions to be of great value, and we listen and take heed from other’s experiences; but we’ve learned we still need to check things out for ourselves. Sometimes, what works for one sailor, may not work for another sailor, and vice versa.

Today, the morning hours greeted us with barely a trace of wind, which made an easy exit out the Lake Worth Inlet; unlike the morning the three Gemini sister ships ventured out the same inlet for their first attempt, a month ago tomorrow, to go to the Bahamas. (“Weather“, “weather“, “weather”.)

As we enjoyed our calm journey up the Atlantic Ocean, we noticed the high-rise buildings that crowd the eastern shoreline starting in Miami, diminished somewhat and became more sparse starting at St. Lucie Inlet. The sandy beaches all along the eastern shore remain constant up to Ft. Pierce. Since this is as far as we are going to go offshore, the knowledge of where the sandy beaches end and the rocky shores begin, (that I’ve read about of the New England states) will have to come from a source other than myself.

Gary took advantage of mother nature’s gentleness, providing calm seas today, and went to the foredeck to exercise. While he was there, I manned the helm. (The term “manned” is so sexist, but saying, “ I personed the helm.” doesn’t sound right.) While looking out over the blue ocean on our starboard (right side), I saw a shark swim by. No kidding. It must have been five or six feet long. A sense of relief washed over me after a quick glance to the foredeck confirmed the captain was still there, exercising, unaware of my panic stricken imagination.

Later on in the afternoon, both of us were sitting in the helm’s seat and all of a sudden Gary yells, “Woe, woe, woe!!!” He scared the bejabbers out of me as I sat there thinking I needed to stop the boat in a hurry. (As if that’s even possible.) He readily explained his excitement was over a huge fish he just saw jumping up out of the water displaying its whole body. He said it was probably 6 feet long and could have been a marlin or a swordfish.

Throughout the day, we enjoyed watching the flying fish, “flying gurnards“. They have fan-like pectoral fins that look like wings. Periodically, we would see them soaring over the water’s surface. I’d like to think our enjoyment we experienced while watching them possibly matched the enjoyment they must experience in having such a unique ability to perform such a feat. The ocean’s nearly flat surface today, allowed them to obtain enough momentum to fly 100 feet or more before reentering their oceanic home.

We were introduced to the Indian River during our trip south, down the ICW. It begins at Titusville, Florida. Today, we found its end 109 miles south of its beginning, at St. Lucie Inlet. We were aware that the Indian River ran for many miles, but until today we didn’t realize the extent of its length. The Indian River is actually a misnomer in that technically it is a lagoon. Occasionally, we will see a sign reading Indian River Lagoon, but on the navigational charts, and in general, it is referred to as the Indian River.

We easily found the entrance to Ft. Pierce Inlet using our GPS and binoculars. The tide was going in and the current was to our advantage as well. With the 9 knot wind to our stern, we had a smooth ride into the inlet. As it turned out (for us…on this particular day…with today’s weather), we had no problem whatsoever navigating the inlet and finding the anchorage we wanted to use for the night. (“Who of you, by worrying, can add a single day to your life?”)

We arrived at our evening’s anchorage around 3:30 in the afternoon, which was later than we’d hoped, but we made it here just as a light sprinkle of rain started. As Gary finished arranging a bridle for the anchor line, I utilized the gift of rain to wash the salt water off the topside of White Swan. By the time I’d finished sponging her off, the shower stopped and the sunshine returned. Around 6:30 PM it started thundering and another slight sprinkle of rain came. It wasn’t until a short time after 8:00 PM that the predicted thunderstorm moved in. We were thankful for it’s timely delay.

Tomorrow, we will once again travel the ICW. This final leg of our journey will take us from Ft. Pierce to Indian Harbour Beach, In our opinion, this section of the ICW is one of the prettiest, most scenic part of the ICW with all its spoil islands dotting the waterway. Made by the bottom soil from years of dredging the ICW, most of the little islands have evolved beautifully and are now decorated with sandy beaches, flora, and fauna indigenous to the area.

Our final trip before hurricane season 2010, north up the ICW, will take us to White Swan’s new home, Telemar Bay Marina at Indian Harbour Beach, Florida. And, the honorable Captain Gary S. Glenn and his first mate and galley slave, Jean, will find new adventures awaiting them at their new home in West Melbourne, Florida. Our newfound friend who keeps his boat at Telemar Bay Marina, Matt, suggested we give him a call when we get to Melbourne Causeway bridge and he will leave work and greet us at the marina to help us with the lines (ropes) as we come into the boat slip. Every sailor knows this is not a necessary act but the offer is appreciated; because you never know what might happen as you try to maneuver into a boat slip; the wind can pick up, the current can be stronger than what you anticipated, etc., making the maneuver challenging. It is common for sailors to help fellow sailors coming into port with their dock lines. This courtesy is a “welcome back to port” kind of thing to do. That’s just the way sailors are…

Now that our time going offshore is over (for a while anyway), I’m going to honestly tell you how I originally felt about doing it for the first time. Before I experienced it firsthand and learned more about cruising offshore and what all is involved in making offshore passages safe and successful, just the mentioning of doing so was frightening to me. The word “offshore” and “boogie man” were synonymous in my vocabulary. Since we’ve learned the key to a successful offshore passage is “weather”, “weather”, “weather”, the word offshore no longer sends goose bumps down my appendages or shivers down my spine. I can now liken it to learning how to scuba dive. I was scared the first time I actually dove with a tank of oxygen attached to a regulator that kept me alive, but with knowledge and experience, the fears I initially had subsided. Pushing myself past my comfort zone is not easy; but so far, I’ve lived to tell about every experience that once caused me to fear.

Both, Gary and I, experienced levels of anxiety regarding our first trip down the ICW from Annapolis, Maryland to Indian Harbour Beach, Florida and then further to the Florida Keys. We are sure we will have a certain level of anxiety the first time we make the passage across the Gulf Stream to the Bahamas. But, what we’ve learned is, once we do something that first time, and get past that initial learning curve, the anxiety lessens and we become more comfortable with the experience. That’s why we called this trip an adventure. Our adventures aboard White Swan for the past six months are ones we will cherish forever, because there is nothing like doing anything for the first time!!!



Just When You Think “It Can’t Get Any Better Than This!”, It Does


After a last minute weather check, we decided to sail offshore again today. Yesterday, Gary and I thought the day presented itself with one of the very best days of our lives. After our sail today, we now believe TODAY was the best day yet. I remember when my two sons were growing up and every Christmas I would say, “This is the best Christmas yet!” After many years, they caught on to the fact that I said that every year and I think the statement lost its appeal to them. Well, now that I’m “grown up”, I think EVERY DAY SHOULD BE THE BEST DAY YET, Christmas or otherwise. And for a sailor to say, “Today was the best day yet.” has special meaning to those of us who know the skill and luck (we choose to believe it’s God’s blessing) it takes to safely return to port. Yeah… the Glenn’s are still awesome and we still rule!

Since today’s leg of the trip from Fort Lauderdale to Lake Worth was longer than yesterday’s journey, we left this morning around 7:30 AM. We safely arrived at Lake Worth and were anchored in a little cove near Singer Island, just inside the inlet, around 3:00 PM.

Going out Fort Lauderdale’s Port Everglades Inlet was not nearly as rough as it was yesterday going out Miami’s Government Cut. The wind was not as strong as it was yesterday and it was from a better direction, providing a smoother ride up the North Atlantic Ocean. Today it was almost always directly behind us, so our day’s sail was downwind. The current was in our favor as well, so we traveled at least two more miles per hour today than yesterday. The swells were small and infrequent as well. All of these factors played a part in making the sail very pleasant.

The wind was light today, around 8 to 10 knots the early part of the day, so we motor sailed with just our screecher. This is a sail designed for light wind and it is the first (on the bow) of three sails on White Swan. (Some boats use a spinnaker, or a gennaker for the same reason.) When we were within a couple of miles to our destination, we shut the motor off and sailed the rest of the way to the inlet with just the screecher. The wind had picked up to 10 to 14 knots by then, providing enough natural power to keep us at the same pace as when we were using the motor. This is what Gary and I call “Sweet!!!” We are minimizing our carbon footprint.

Gary tried his luck at trolling again today, with the same end result as yesterday. He enjoys adding that activity to his sailing.

I had a much easier time working in the galley today. And the refrigerator hinges didn’t have stress on them today like they did yesterday.

The ocean was tranquil today and she was stunningly deep blue in color. There were few clouds dotting the azure sky. When we looked out across the ocean , and nothing but blue ocean and blue sky could be seen as far as we could see, we were once again reminded of how huge this world really is and how much there is out there waiting for us to explore. I told Gary, it’s going to be really strange when we do get to go to the Bahamas and get out into the ocean far enough that we don’t see land anywhere around us, 360 degrees. He said, “It sounds wonderful to me. I’ll like it.” And I’m sure, after we have the opportunity to accomplish a sail to the Bahamas, we’ll once again be saying, “The best day yet!!!”




Blowin’ Offshore


White Swan is headed back to her new home at Indian Harbour Beach, Florida. Last night, Gary and I decided we would try the first leg of the trip offshore, if the weather looked conducive to do so. We also agreed if the ocean was too rough, we would not hesitate to turn around and return to the safety of the ICW and take that route.

After checking the NOAA website, again this morning, we decided it was okay to leave the security of our anchorage and venture out the Miami inlet, Government Cut. However, before leaving Crandon Marina at Key Biscayne, there were last minute tasks necessary for a safe voyage. We reviewed the charts for our course, made sure all hatches were secure, attached the jack-lines, took the grill off its stanchion and stowed it away, tightly secured the dinghy on the dinghy davits so it wouldn’t swing back and forth from the sea swells, put the life raft and ditch bag in the cockpit, took the sun canopies down from the bow of the boat and put the sun canopies up around the cockpit, and after putting our life jackets on and releasing the boat from its mooring ball, we were off to our adventure in the high (literally) seas.

Up to this point in our sailing experience, we have been, what our cousin on the eastern shore of Maryland calls, “pond boaters” because we’ve only sailed in bodies of water where there is land all around us and some of it within our sight at all times. This is the first time we have sailed offshore and we were excited, yet a little anxious until we got past the rough waves of the inlet and turned north to set our course. After

doing so, the new direction allowed the swells to come from nearly behind us (“stern quarter” for you nautically minded people), instead of directly on the bow (which causes a lot of bouncing around and a very rough ride). The swells coming upon the side of our boat were not unmanageable and we decided to put the jib sail out and motor sail. The wind was SSE (south/southeast) at 165 degrees and varied between 9 to 15 knots.

Gary enjoyed the voyage today tremendously. He is in his element when he is at the helm. He put a trolling line out from the stern while he sailed, but did not catch a fish. (Who says men can’t multi-task???)

I enjoyed being out on the ocean and following our voyage on the paper charts. The ocean really is a deep blue…beautiful. Preparing lunch in the galley was quite a challenge. Balancing myself while swaying with the rhythm of the swells took some getting used to. Frequently catching the refrigerator door so it wouldn’t fly off its hinges while I took the necessary items from it, was also challenging. Enjoying the chicken salad sandwiches, marinated artichokes, and multi-grain tortilla chips made the memory of the effort involved in preparing the meal quickly fade. And life doesn’t get any better than having chocolate for dessert while sailing on a deep blue ocean.

Our trip took about 5 ½ hours today. The first hour was spent motoring from Key Biscayne to the last marker of the Government Cut inlet where we turned north to set our course. The last half hour was spent going into the Port Everglades inlet at Fort Lauderdale and navigating to Lake Sylvia, where we are now anchored for the night. After such an exciting day on the North Atlantic Ocean, relaxing showers refreshed our bodies and the reward of successfully accomplishing our first offshore sail refreshed our spirits. We are so AWESOME. Today, the Glenn’s RULE!!! After e-mailing our dear friend and fellow sailor, Pat Dennis, she e-mailed us back congratulating us and said we have now “grown up”. We’ve waited a lot of years to “grow up”. But, we plan on being kids at heart forever…








Enjoying Key Biscayne


From Pumpkin Key to Key Biscayne, we had one of the best days of sailing this trip. The wind was 15 to 17 knots as Lily Pad and White Swan sailed with full sails on a beam reach (wind was at 90 degrees from the bow, which is great for sailing) up Biscayne Bay. Gary and I regretted having to take down the sails when we arrived at the channel to go into the marina.

Going south from Miami, we briefly stopped at Crandon Marina on Key Biscayne for fuel, etc. Going north from the Keys, we stopped at the same marina and rented a mooring ball for two nights. The first night is usually a time for relaxing after a day of being out on the water and all that is involved with that. The next day, however, we took our bikes to shore and explored the area.

Nancy and Sandy had told Gary about a bike trail across the street from the marina and we easily found it. The winding path that led us to Crandon Park was partially sheltered by numerous trees, including various types of palms and seagrapes, which intermittently made a canopy over the path, providing shade and a welcome relief to the hot tropical sun.

We rode our bikes around the huge parking lot along the massive sandy beach. Today is Monday so the parking lot was, for the most part, empty. The numerous trash cans throughout the park were full or nearly full indicating the grand park must have been very busy over the weekend. There was a building of significant size at the park so we stopped to see if it might be of interest to us. Delightedly, we once again found relief from the hot sun when we visited the air conditioned Marjory Stoneman Douglas Nature Center, one of the main features of the park. Ms. Douglas greets you with profound words printed on the outside wall as you come toward the entrance: “Whatever the universe is, I believe it is all one. And this fragile shoreline, with its mangroves, coastal hammocks and ancient reef, is a precious part of very little that still survives of our unique environment.” I was so moved by her statement, I stood and read it over and over. I had never heard of Marjory Stoneman Douglas before today, but by the time I left her Nature Center, I found, in her, a new friend. Though she died at the age of 108 in 1998, I felt an intimate kindred spirit with her because of how she cared for and loved the environment. I was told by a young saleslady in the gift shop, Ms. Douglas is well known by Floridians and is one of their most celebrated authors. I purchased one of her books about the Florida everglades, entitled Everglades: River of Grass. She’s written other books, many being books of short stories. Miss Douglas was born in 1890 and in 1915 she became the Society editor for Frank Stoneman’s Miami Herald. Hummm…office romance maybe. I find the sequence of her name interesting, keeping her maiden name last instead of a hyphenated last name like it is done by some ladies nowadays. Today, she might have called herself Marjory Douglas-Stoneman.

The nature center had six small aquariums that housed inhabitants of the local waters. It had an art gallery, gift shop and numerous handouts of informative literature of the local sea life and other facts about the Florida environment, as well as information about Key Biscayne. It would be worth a visit to the nature center just to pick up a map of the area.

While I was in the gift shop, Gary studied the map of the park and saw there was a garden on the opposite end of the park from where the nature center was. Upon leaving our air conditioned reprieve, we rode our bikes once again across the huge parking lot (seriously, it’s at least one mile long) and found the gardens. We were greeted by a loud bird’s call, of which we had no clue from what bird it came. Surprised, we found peacocks roaming freely in the gardens. We were not only amazed at the spectacle of them, we were amazed at how many there where. What a sight!

To say the acres of gardens were lovely, is an understatement. In one of the fountain ponds, a swan couple glided over the water’s surface toward us, as though they instinctively knew we wanted to take their picture. We already have a swan picture aboard White Swan, but it is soon to be replaced with the new one we took today of this graceful couple.

We rode our bikes on the partially shaded paved paths throughout the gardens and ended up riding on an unpaved path at the far side of the park. We thought maybe we would find a way out to the road, but we ended up in a hammock with no outlet. Actually, it was a little eerie. We quickly turned our bikes around and went out the way we came in.

Sandy and Nancy had told us about a grocery store within biking distance, so we turned the opposite direction from the way we needed to go back to the marina. A mile or so down the bike trail, we passed Nancy as she was biking back to the marina with groceries.

While we briefly chatted we her, we neglected to ask how much further the store was, and after what seemed like an endless hot journey, we found it in a strip mall, on the second floor. How many grocery stores do you know of that are in a strip mall on the second floor? Since we didn’t want to carry a heavy load of groceries, we purchased a few light items and then had lunch right there at the grocery store’s sub shop. Dr. Gary Glenn is living the high-life now folks. Ambiance is all in the eyes of the beholder, and air conditioning offered all the ambiance we needed to entice us to have lunch in a grocery store.

For those of you who plan to cruise in this area, the Winn Dixie grocery store is approximately a 30 minute bike ride from Crandon Marina. Go across the street from the marina and you will easily find the bike trail. Turning right on the trail takes you to Crandon Park and to the Village of Key Biscayne, where you will find the grocery store and other shops. The Winn Dixie is on the corner of Crandon Blvd. and W. Enid Drive. If you are riding your bike on the same side of the street as Crandon Park, the street sign reads Sunrise Drive (the street is named W. Enid Drive on the other side of the street). A bank occupies the corner of the street that is visible from Sunrise Drive (look across the street). There is a bike rack on the W. Enid Drive side of the building, as well as an escalator or elevator that you use to go up to the store. We had so much trouble finding this place, I doubt we will ever forget where it is. 

After allowing our body temperatures to drop down to normalcy, we ventured back outside into the noonday sun. Our options were to hurry back to a hot boat on the mooring ball (no electricity, therefore no air conditioning) or continue to enjoy what breeze there was from riding our bikes and see more of the park. We chose the later. From the saleslady in the gift shop of the nature center, we were informed of a boardwalk in the park leading to a fossilized mangrove forest. Fortunately, the boardwalk was on our way back to the marina. We easily found it, and it led us to a deck that overlooked the fossilized black mangrove forest, which just looked like a reef in the water below us. If you didn’t know what you were looking at, you would think it is just another reef. However, it is a very special feature of Crandon Park, and it is believed to be over 6000 years old.

Instead of going directly back to the boat after leaving the boardwalk, we went past our turn to the marina and went up on the bridge that connects Key Biscayne to Miami. Again, our resident informational Keys experts, Nancy and Sandy, told us sometimes you can stand on the bridge and see stingrays and other large fish in the water below the bridge. Unfortunately, our timing wasn’t right and after a few minutes of standing in the hot sun and seeing nothing swimming in the water, we rode our bikes back to the marina store where we indulged in ice cream and bought a bag of ice so we could enjoy a nice cold drink on the boat.

We enjoyed our day exploring Key Biscayne tremendously. Going ashore while cruising has been one on our greatest pleasures. Often times, there is no where to tie up the dinghy, thereby not allowing a shore excursion. But when possible, going ashore adds so much to the experience of cruising.

The best part of the whole day was going to dinner with Nancy and Sandy. We took the city bus to the Village of Key Biscayne, and Gary and Sandy decided upon the restaurant, Origin Asian, and it turned out to be fabulous. The evening hours presented a cool breeze and we sat outside beside a fountain pond. Our meals were wonderful and our last night together with our dear newly acquired friends, Nancy and Sandy Graves, was very special. I say “last night” because tomorrow we are parting ways, as we continue to go north to our new home in Melbourne, Florida, and they reunite with Ed and Cheryl to continue their journey to the Bahamas.  Bon voyage, our friends.
















Cigarette, Anyone? No, Thanks!!!

Lady Bug stayed another night at Islamorada, while Lily Pad and White Swan continued their trek north. We had our sails up as soon as we left the anchorage and we were able to sail most of the day. FABULOUS!
Just as White Swan was about to enter a narrow channel near Card Bank, we were attacked by the wakes of a bizillion (seemed like it anyway) “cigarette boats” involved in a Poker Run. Fortunately, we had not entered the channel when they swarmed upon us, and we were able to maneuver White Swan to the side of the waterway, thereby avoiding, to a certain extent, the fury of the wakes caused from their huge outboard motors. Since Lily Pad was in the lead, and already in the channel, she had no alternative but to hold her course and get pounded by the onslaught of power boat wake activity. A helicopter was following the race, filming their “fun”. As it flew by, Gary gave the film crew a “California howdy”. Rightfully so…
After the fiasco with the cigarette boats, we motored on to Pumpkin Key where we anchored for the night. There, we met a couple who was also owners of a Gemini catamaran. We talked to them for a while about their experiences while going to the Bahamas. Their trip over to the Bahamas was horrendous, as they chose a day when the seas were extremely rough. Their tale sounded like my worst nightmare. We won’t be following their example (not deliberately). We’ve been warned numerous times to wait for calm seas to make the crossing across the Gulf Stream, and that is what we intend to do.