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April, 2010:

Day Two in the Mangrove Swamp

4-14-10

Gary and I don’t particularly like this anchorage other than the fact it is protecting us from the strong wind.  That is why we came into Linderman Creek, and it has served it’s purpose.  However, we’re tired of looking at mangroves.  And another dinghy ride for enjoyment’s sake is out of the question in this eerie mangrove, crocodile infested anchorage… When the weather allows it, we much prefer to anchor in a more open space where we can see a variety of sites.  My hunch is, that is also the preference of the sailors on the two sister ships anchored here with us.

Cheryl and Ed offered all of us a break to the monotony by inviting us to Lady Bug for dinner and a movie.  She made wonderful chicken and beef enchiladas, I made a Pecan Rum Pie and Nancy brought buttered sourdough bread and Dove CHOCOLATES to have during the movie.  Appropriately, we watched a pirate movie entitled Cut Throat Island, starring Gina Davis.  I don’t know if it is classified as a comedy, but we found it to be very humorous.  Sailors would watch it from a different perspective, as a musician would listen to music, a singer would listen to another singer, or an artist would look at a painting; as we all interpret what we see, hear, and feel from our own perspective.  As long as we find goodness and enjoyment in our interpretations, life is good. (Sometimes, I feel like letting the philosophical side of me leak out a little…sorry if I got a little on you…I‘ve been cooped up in the mangrove swamp too long. Would somebody let me out of here???)

Crocodiles in Florida

When we were at Elliott Key, Ed apparently saw me dangling my feet over the dinghy as we floated in the water. Steadfastly watching out for us, he kindly warned me not to do so in the waters of Linderman Creek.  With all the mangroves around us, he was concerned about the possibility of crocodiles being in the area.  After a brief lesson on the difference between alligators and crocodiles, I gladly kept my feet or any other appendage from dangling over the side of the dinghy.  (Briefly: alligators have a broader snout than the more aggressively threatening crocodiles.)

I was so freaked out about the possibility of crocodiles in the area, when we stopped by Lily Pad, I promptly informed Sandy and Nancy of our pending doom if we weren’t careful.  Later, I saw the two fearless ones kayaking in the supposedly crocodile infested waters.  I yelled at her, “You certainly are fearless, Nancy!!!”  Her only concern was the swift current and trying to stay in control of her kayak.  When they came to our boat that evening via their kayaks, she tossed her mooring line to me in a hurry, and I held it tightly while she managed to maneuver herself out of the unsteady vessel.  I kept a lookout for crocodiles, as she remained oblivious to a more serious problem lurking, unseen, under the waters surface.

Florida Keys, “The Bahamas of the States”

4-11-10

Sandy and Nancy decided to stay in Key Biscayne, FL and pick up a mooring ball at Crandon Marina for a couple of nights and then join us in the Keys, since the rest of us decided to go on.  After filling one of our fuel tanks and both water tanks (and buying ice and Klon Dike ice cream bars) we sailed over Biscayne Bay to Elliott Key, which only took us two and a half hours.  Gary and I were excited to finally be sailing on clear emerald green water.  Sometimes the water looked blue, but mostly it looked a pretty clear emerald green.  Since we were in clear water, we used our water maker when the engine was running.

Gary snorkeling at Elliott Key

When we got to our anchorage at Elliott Key, I knew it wouldn’t take Gary long to get in the water.  We have been doctoring an infected place on his neck for the last week, and I knew no matter how much I pleaded, he would get in that water.  And he did.  However, as soon as he got back onto the boat, he showered and I put peroxide and Neosporin on the infected site.  Fish feces can be very damaging to an open wound, and we know to be very careful.

Gary and I took a leisurely dinghy ride around the anchorage.  Ed had told us about making a glass bottom bucket so we could use it to check our anchor set.  We took this bucket with us in the dinghy and had fun using it to look at the soft coral as we floated along.  Ed and Cheryl got in their dinghy with their dog ,Molly, and headed toward shore, so we met them at the beach.  There were a lot of power boaters partying on the beach, with loud music coming from one boat in particular.  I was appalled at the trash strewn over what should have been a lovely beach.  Obviously, the partying crowds gave no regard to our fragile eco-system and thoughtlessly left their trash behind.  The sight left me with a sense of melancholy as I pondered the question, “Why do people contribute to the demise of our world with such mindless acts of carelessness?”

We were aware a storm front was suppose to come our way, and indeed it did, with gusts of wind up to 30 miles an hour.  Both Lily Pad and White Swan drug their anchors a little way before grabbing tightly again.  Fortunately, both of us were able to respond to the situation quickly and it was soon under control.  We were thankful we were not in a crowded anchor, such as the one in Miami.  Sandy and Nancy should have been fine where they were as well, since they were secured to a mooring ball.  Our anchor held tight during the night, as did Lily Pad’s.  We contemplated going to a different anchorage, as the front was to continue yet another day; but after both our anchors dug in so tightly and held fast, we decided to stay where we were.

4-12-10

The front lingered around us all day, with lots of rain and gusty winds.  Gary and I decided to take advantage of the rain and we put buckets out to catch the rainwater and I did laundry by hand.  I washed the clothing and then hung them over the lifelines, pinned on with clothes pins, and let the rain rinse them.  After the rain stopped, Gary rung the clothing out and pinned them back on the lines to dry.  Worked like a charm.  And it was fun to be so creative with God’s gift of rain.  We also took advantage of the rain and used it to wash the top of the boat.  I used a scrub brush and Roll-Off and scrubbed the non-skid surfaces while Gary followed behind me with a sponge and cleaned the smooth surfaces.  And the rain did the rinsing.  It was much easier than having to mess around with a water hose to do the job.  Afterward, Gary said, “I bet it’s been a long time since you played in the rain.”  Yep!  Too long.  We enjoyed it so much, we intend to do more of it.  It’s truly wonderful being married to your best friend and play mate.

After playing in the rain, I spent the rest of the afternoon cooking.  We invited Ed and Cheryl over for dinner.  I was going to make a lemon meringue pie, put after fussing with the oven and trying to accomplish a baked pie crust with minimal burned edges, I gave up the notion of trying to bake meringue in the boat’s oven.  So, I just made the lemon pie filling using the ripest of the lemons we had.  After hearing my dilemma, Cheryl contributed fresh strawberries and whipped cream for the topping–delicious.

Making a meringue pie and noodles goes hand-in-hand in my kitchen.  Meringue requires just the whites of the eggs, so I use the yolks to make noodles.  Since, I gave up on the meringue before it was brought to fruition, I refrigerated the egg whites to be used later in an omelet, and used the yolks to make noodles for chicken and noodles.  Mashed potatoes, and green beans finished the menu and when dinner came and went, there was little left in the serving bowls–interpreted as a compliment to the galley slave.

While I was busy in the galley, Gary studied charts to familiarize himself with tomorrow‘s journey.  He also kept his attention focused on the chart plotter and Sirius weather radio, tracking the front that was going through.  As luck would have it, there was a break in the weather long enough for Ed, Cheryl, and Molly to come for dinner and a short visit.

 4-13-10

We left Elliott Key after a leisurely time with latte, coffee and devotions.  Motor-sailing allowed us to charge our boat’s batteries, run our water maker, run our refrigerator off the inverter, and charge our laptop computer.

We were anchored up a small creek called Linderman Creek by 11:30 AM.  The wind and current is strong but our anchor dug in well and there are no wakes slapping up onto the hull of the boat, so inside the boat seems quiet.  The last two nights brought with them, choppy water slapping the underneath of the boat, creating a lot of bothersome noise.  I use earplugs during such times, but Gary chooses not to because one of us needs to hear what is going on in case of an emergency.  He said the noise awakened him a couple of times during the night last night.  It had to have gotten pretty loud to have awakened him, because he usually sleeps soundly.  With calmer waters where we are anchored for tonight, sleep rebound should come easily for him.

Sandy and Nancy arrived around 1:30 this afternoon.  It’s very remote where our three Gemini’s are anchored.  Gary and I would not have chosen such an isolated spot if we had been traveling alone.  We’ve never had a problem in the past, but we also have been selective in our anchorages.  We feel there is safety in numbers, so we are comfortable here.

Mangroves at Linderman Creek

The little islands in this area consist predominately of mangroves.  Mangroves are found in the tropics and they are noted for their interlacing roots that can be seen above ground.  We went on a dingy ride through the serpentine creek,  and to me,  the mangroves cast an eeriness onto the ambiance of the waterway.  I’d much rather see a sandy beach.

Cheryl didn’t feel well so she and Ed passed on a social evening, so Gary and I taught Sandy and Nancy how to play Parcheesi.  Tomorrow night, all of us are planning on a pitch-in dinner and watching a movie aboard Lady Bug.  We are enjoying our new boating friends tremendously.  The commonality of loving being on the water unites us.

 

 

 

 

Ready, Set, Go…False Start…Ready, Set, Go

4-7-10

Lady Bug and Lily Pad going out the Lake Worth Inlet 4-7-10

We left our anchorage just inside the Lake Worth Inlet at daybreak. After motoring to the turning basin (a body of water inside the inlet where big ships can turn around), the three Gemini captains latched themselves to their jack-lines and went forward on the boats to put up the main sail. A jack-line is a line tied from the stern (back) of the boat to the bow (front) of the boat, One is put on the starboard (right side) and another on the port (left side). The person going forward latches themselves to the jack-line with a tether that is attached to their lifejacket. These lines are not routinely used in calmer waters by most sailors. But, they were an added feature for our Bahamas trip.

Rough seas encompassed us as we entered the awesomeness of the ocean. We motor-sailed to the first marker for the inlet entrance (if you were coming in from the Atlantic), which is a little over one mile out to sea. All three of the suddenly re-sized minuscule Gemini’s were being tossed around like popcorn. The leader of our flotilla, Captain Ed, decided we should return to port, as the whole ten hour trip over the Gulf Stream would have been uncomfortably rough. None of us had a problem with his decision.

Since we were going to start making our own water with our water maker after we got out into the clear ocean, we had let our water tanks go down pretty low. Now that we are back in port, our only two options to obtain more water is to pull anchor and go to a marina or take water jugs to the marina via the dingy. As mentioned in previous blogs, getting in and out of marinas is not always an easy task, so we opted for the later choice. The only problem with that option was, we didn’t have the big blue 5 gallon water jugs that most cruisers carry aboard. In preparing for this trip with our shortsightedness, we didn’t see the necessity for them. We continue to learn what is really needed for a cruiser on a small boat. (“Small boat” is relative.) The necessity of “jerry jugs” for water, offered us an excuse to go to West Marine. (THE store for boaters.) Fortunately, there is a store about a half mile away from where we are anchored, and we have walked there numerous times while waiting for our “weather window”. We walked to West Marine, only to find they had sold out of these pretty light blue necessities. (Jerry jugs for water are light blue, yellow for diesel, and red for gasoline.) The young salesman who attended to our needs, called another West Marine store and made arrangements for someone from the other store to bring two of the beauties over to the store where we were. We have a newly found respect for jerry jugs, after the effort it took by everyone involved in the transaction to get them.

After obtaining the jerry jugs, the next step was taking them to the marina to fill them. This act involved a fairly long dingy ride through a lot of chop (choppy water). Since I sit near the bow of the dingy while Gary is steering with the outboard motor, I became a shield, protecting him from a lot of the spray of water as we bounced through the waves. By the time we returned to White Swan, we both had to change our clothing and quickly prepare to go to the “meeting of the Captain’s minds” aboard Lily Pad.

During a time of drinks and refreshments, provided by all of us (which is a common thing to do for boaters), the captains decided we would try to continue our trip on Friday (today is Wednesday). Ed, Gary and Sandy made this decision after looking at the weather website. As we have learned, this plan is subject to change from day to day.

We can now see the necessity of having an internet air-card while cruising in the United States. When not at a marina offering Wi-Fi, or being at a library or internet café, we have no internet. The next time we do extended cruising in the states, we will definitely have some type of internet air-card. However, it will be of no use in the Bahamas, and that is why we opted not to get one for this trip. Again, we are continually learning about what is really needed for such a lifestyle.

 

4-8-10 8:00 AM

Since we plan on leaving tomorrow, we will move our boats closer to the mouth of the inlet this evening.

Today, we plan to do a few odd jobs around the boat. One of Gary’s odd jobs is to fix the latch that fell off the closet in our berth while we were bouncing around in the ocean yesterday. We also need to walk to West Marine and get some more Water Sorb for the fuel. This product keeps condensation down in the fuel tanks. After we go to West Marine we’ll stop by the grocery for a few things, since we walk right by a Publix. Publix is Florida’s version of Indiana’s Kroger.

 

A few other interesting things that happened yesterday that taught us new lessons:

1. One of our hatches was down and appeared to be closed, but there was a jack-line laying under it and it was not securely locked. The first big wave that splashed over White Swan sent a deluge of water into our cabin. Lesson learned: Don’t assume the hatch’s locks are in the proper position, just by looking at them. We need to literally inspect them from the top of the boat as well as inside the cabin. In this scenario, not only did we get a gush of water in our cabin, if Gary had to use that jack-line to go forward, it would have been caught under the hatch making it impossible for him to use it. Not a good thing to happen out to sea.

2. When we returned to port, I just happened to get in the sail locker which is on the bow of the boat, and I noticed there was some water in the bottom of the locker. Long story short, we had to add a rubber gasket to the hatch cover to fix this problem. We don’t even want to think about how much water would have gotten into that locker if we had continued across the Gulf Stream yesterday. Lesson learned: make sure all lockers are water tight before entering the high seas.

3. We had a large dinner last night and I think it was still digesting when we got in the rough waters of the ocean. I have never gotten seasick, even during the storms we’ve encountered on the Chesapeake Bay. But yesterday, I started feeling a little woozy. Generally, we don’t carry Dramamine onboard, but coming back into the anchorage gave us opportunity to purchase some for the next time we go off shore. Lesson learned: take Dramamine the night before we plan on going off shore.

4-8-10 8:30 AM

Captain Ed just called Captain Gary, requesting a meeting and coffee at 9:00 AM. Looks like the weather has changed, indicating a change of plans.

Sandy and Nancy from Lily Pad, as well as Ed from Lady Bug, came as expected at 9:00 AM. The weather is not going to be conducive to make our crossing to the Bahamas for at least a week, so we all decided to start heading south down the ICW. Since the Gulf Stream is going to push us to the north, the further south we are the better it will be for the crossing. We will go as far as Miami, at the least. There is an inlet to the ocean at Ft. Lauderdale and if the weather permits, we might go out and sail offshore down to Miami.

We left the anchorage at the north end of Lake Worth at noon and traveled 19 miles south arriving at our anchorage around 4:15 PM today. We went through six bridges today so that is why it took us so long to go such a short distance. It was fun traveling with two other boats. Only one bridge opening required a game of tag, making circles in the waterway, because we had to wait a long time. Bridges will be our nemesis the rest of the way south, as they litter the ICW with one every two miles or so. That’s the major reason we are considering going off shore from Ft. Lauderdale to Miami.

There also are a lot of power boats using the ICW in this area, and their wakes push us around like someone forcing there way through a crowd. This is the main reason sail boaters are not particularly fond of power boaters. Power boaters are referred to as “stink potters” and sail boaters, “rag baggers”. We think the only courteous stink potters are those who were once rag baggers and know what it’s like to get tossed around by the power boater’s wake. Our friends, Kirby and Roberta Mehrhof, who are avid sailors, also have a small power boat they named “Rag Bagger” because they want everyone to know to which side of the fence they really belong.

Cheryl wasn’t feeling real well today, so she and Ed missed happy hour aboard Lily Pad. We had a delightful time with Sandy and Nancy. Gary and I even got to watch their TV for a little while. We are finding out, most of the cruisers have a TV aboard. Gary is still prolonging the advent of a TV on White Swan. Personally, I miss Oprah, Dr. Phil and Dr. Oz!!!

 

4-9-10

Long day today. We traveled 34 miles and navigated through 16 bridges. We left at 8:30 AM and arrived at Lake Sylvia in Ft. Lauderdale at 4:45 PM, The section of the ICW we traveled today is the worse part of the whole ICW for sail boaters, with all the power boat chop and bridges. We are all relieved that part of the trip is over.

Gary and I are amazed we have traveled 1065 miles south of Norfolk, Virginia on our boat, White Swan. The chart we are using, guiding us down the ICW, ends at mile 1095 at Miami; and we will be there tomorrow. Amazing! We have learned so much about sailing during this adventure. Who said “you can’t teach old dogs new tricks“? These two old salty dogs are still learning something new everyday.

 

4-10-10

Cruise ships at Miami

After motoring for five hours and going through “only” nine bridges, we arrived at Miami, Florida. The harbors sport a lot of tour vessels of various kinds. We have seen more tour boats here than anywhere else, including Fort Lauderdale. We saw numerous huge cruise ships in both Fort Lauderdale and here in Miami. The cruising guide reported six or more of these pleasure cruising ships in port on any given day. I mentioned before how the size of any boat is relative. Relative in comparison to one of these ships, makes White Swan look like the pinhole of a needle in a haystack.

We are close enough to the ocean now, and in much cleaner water, so we tried out our water maker. At first it was producing drops at a time and we thought we might have made the wrong decision in getting the smallest unit. Gary figured out we didn’t have one of the valves in the proper position, and after turning it where it needed to be, it began producing water at a decent rate. While it was making droplets of water, I made the comment I’d seen IV’s deliver at a faster rate, and maybe we should have gotten an IV pump to do the job. I crack myself up.

Gary invited our fellow sailors to come to our boat for refreshments and a meeting to decide what we will do tomorrow. Anticipating a social hour, I baked mini-muffins, while we were traveling today, to share with the group. I’m still trying to figure out how to use the oven on the boat without burning it’s contents. Today, I baked using the lowest temperature on the dial, turned the pan every 3 to 5 minutes and successfully baked the muffins with no fatalities. We were going to buy a new and better oven for the boat until we decided to buy the new house. So during my frustration when using the boat’s oven, I remind myself of the lovely new home we have.

After meeting with the captains and first mates on the other two Gemini’s, we decided to go further south to the Florida Keys and anchor at Pumpkin Key while we wait for our weather window to make our crossing to the Bahamas.  Gary and I are excited to get the opportunity to explore the Keys.  He read in the cruising guide, the Keys are commonly referred to as “the Bahamas of the States”.  We’ll settle for that for now.  It’s all Good…

Bahama Passage Still On-Hold

4-5-10

Gary and Ed have been deligently watching the weather reports for both here and the Bahamas.  It looks like we might make our crossing on Wednesday or Thursday.  Hopefully, by Friday we will be seeing the crystal blue water we all are longing to see.

Today, Ed took us to shore in the dingy and dropped us off so we could do some shopping .  Just a short walk brought us to the grocery store and the CVS.  Cheryl went to Stein Mart, which is in the same plaza as the grocery store, while Gary and I walked another half mile to West Marine.  We reunited at the grocery and finished our shopping there.  While Gary was going through the check-out, I walked across the street to a French Cafe and purchased a freshly baked round of bread.  We have all the ingredients needed to make bread on the boat, but as long as it’s available to buy, the galley slave is opting to enjoy the fresh baked goods of others. 

Yesterday morning, Gary and I went to the French Cafe for breakfast with the couple from one of the other Gemini catamarans in this harbor, Lily Pad.  The captain’s name is Sandy, and his wife and first mate is Nancy.  Sandy and Nancy’s boat will be  the third Gemini in our flotilla going to the Bahamas. We found out the fourth Gemini in the harbor has had no one aboard for awhile.

Yesterday evening, Chery and Ed came over to our boat for Easter dinner.  She grilled a pork tenderloin and I made eveything else.  After dinner, we taught them how to play Parcheesi.   

No church service.  No Easter egg hunt.  No big family dinner.  Gary and I sat on the love seat on the back of the boat, and listened to the church bells ringing in the distance.  Church of a different kind.  A great Easter Day…

Going to the Bahamas-Day Three

Lady Bug going under dual-laned bascule bridge

4-3-10

We left Hobe Sound at 8:00 AM and arrived at Lake Worth around noon.  The journey was arduous in that we had to go through 6 bridges, some of which we had to await their opening as much as a half hour.  During that half hour time Lady Bug and White Swan played tag,  making circles in the channel.  Dealing with the current now, is commonplace.

One of the bridges was a dual-laned bascule bridge.  Simultaneously, both bridges lifted. Seeing it was a first for us.

At a marina in Lake Worth, we filled our diesel tank, purchased ice and then anchored near two other Gemini’s.  We haven’t met their owners yet, but by the time the evening is over, we will.  The owners of Lily Pad have been in contact with Cheryl and Ed and they are the ones who want to cross over to the Bahamas with us.

Ed will check the weather report one last time, and make the decision as to whether or not we will make our crossing tomorrow.

Going to the Bahamas-Day Two

4-2-10

Captain Ed Byers, the leader of this flotilla, and Captain Gary decided departure from our overnight anchorage would be at 7:30 AM. I meant to set our alarm for 6:30 AM and inadvertently set it for 6:00 AM instead. Since we were still tired from the previous day’s hectic activities, the alarm was reset to the appropriate time and we snoozed for another half hour before Gary arose to make our morning latte and java. Our morning ritual of enjoying lattes, followed by coffee, while having a devotional time in bed, has remained constant during our cruising journey. When we were in Indiana, we enjoyed our morning java in the hot tub. Unfortunately, this boat isn’t big enough to have a hot tub on it.

7:30 AM is a little too early for these retired cruisers to have breakfast, so we pulled anchor and were well underway before we ate. “Eating” really seems to be a theme with us, doesn’t it? We’ve all heard it said, “Some people eat to live, others live to eat.” Gary and I enjoy both philosophies. I think there might have been more to my forgetting to bring the bathroom scales with us this trip, than just plain forgetfulness. I think I’ll coin a new phrase and call it a “physiological Freudian slip”.

Little islands decorating both shores of the Intracoastal Waterway, appeared just north of Sebastian, Florida and continued to add ambiance to our day’s southbound journey. These islands are “spoil islands” that are manmade with bottom soil dredged from the waterway.  Frequently, we saw the island’s shorelines dotted with the salt and pepper look of snowy egrets and great blue herons. Brown pelicans have been the mainstay of the airway as they skim so close to the water, it looks like there is only a millimeter of clearance between the tips of their wing feathers and the water‘s surface.

The water on the ICW became a beautiful emerald green as we went by Ft. Pierce Inlet. The color was short lived as we got further down the waterway. While traveling past the inlet, I was at the helm and realized there was a definite advantage in following the Byers. I’d read on the chart plotter the current was very strong where the inlet meets the ICW, so when Lady Bug began a quick skid to starboard I was not surprised. A sudden push of the throttle forward sped White Swan up enough to only experience a minor skid and we were soon free from the current‘s push starboard. If White Swan had been in the lead, this entry would have offered more excitement.

Sunrise at Hobe Sound 4-3-10, picture taken out the hatch of our berth

We motored approximately 56 miles today and anchored for the night in Hobe Sound. Hobe Sound was named after the Jobe Indians by the Spaniards, who pronounced Jobe “Ho-bay”.  The Byers told us the locals adamantly pronounce it ” Hob” with a long “o” sound.  Regardless of how it should be pronounced,  Hobe Sound offers a beautiful little anchorage with a wildlife refuge on the western shore. 

After dinner,Ed and Cheryl came to visit us aboard White Swan and let me use their internet air card to post our blogs.  Thank you, Ed and Cheryl Byers.

And We’re Off…To the Bahamas 4-1-10 (No Foolin’)

April 1, 2010 provided a sunny day and calm waters to resume our trip down the ICW. After readying the boat, and a last minute trip for a few items at the grocery, we left our boat slip at Telemar Bay Marina around 11:00 AM. Pat Dennis was there to take pictures and wish us Bon Voyage. Her husband, Tom, stopped by to bid his farewell earlier, before going for his morning walk. We had dinner with the Dennis’s last evening before they came to pick us up at our home to take us to the marina. They offered to take us to the marina so we could leave our car in the garage while we’re gone. Pat and Tom have taken their boat, Swan, to the Bahamas and during our time together at dinner, they had a lot of experiential knowledge to share with us, that was insightful and should prove to be helpful. We plan on seeing them again next month when we go to Annapolis for a friend’s wedding, as they plan on leaving mid-April in their boat, to make the track back up the ICW to Annapolis. They have been spending the summers in Annapolis, and winters in Indian Harbour Beach, living aboard Swan, for the past ten years. They love the “live aboard” lifestyle. They are generous and kind to all boaters and are quickly available to lend a hand, or their car, or whatever a fellow boater might need. It was easy to fall in friendship with them.

Ed, Cheryl and Molly (their doggy) leaving port

After leaving the marina, we motored a short distance on the Banana River and met up with Ed and Cheryl just as they were leaving the dock where they kept Lady Bug the past month. We followed them out the Banana River and onto Indian River Lagoon where we began down the ICW.

We planned on a short traveling day, and four hours later we arrived at our anchorage at the small town of Sebastian. At Sebastian, the ICW is dotted with small islands, some of which are national wildlife refuges for pelicans. These small islands lining the ICW shores in this particular area are quite picturesque, as well as home to the many pelicans residing on them.

We were all tired from the exertion of preparing for this trip, so after anchoring, we just relaxed for awhile; after which, Gary grilled steaks while the galley slave returned from retirement and prepared garlic mashed potatoes, broccoli and a tart for dessert. Throughout the early evening, we were serenaded by the sound of nearby trains transiting through Sebastian. We wondered it they would quit running before bedtime, and to our appreciation, they did. After dinner and clean-up duty, we called it a day. The water remained calm throughout the night hours and we slept well.

Sunrise at Sebastian, FL 4-2-10

 

Preparing for Our Trip to the Bahamas

When we began our journey in November, five months ago, Gary stated, “It’s not about the destination, it’s all about the journey…” Destinations can really be unknown, as they can change from moment to moment. The “journey” is infinite. Plan A is always to have Plan B and sometimes expect to need Plan C. When we stopped in Portsmouth, VA to fill up the boat with fuel, we had no clue we would end up staying there for almost one month, due to Hurricane Ida. When we stopped by to see our friends on Hilton Head Island for a couple of days, we had no intentions of still being there for Christmas, due to our propeller falling off the boat. When we were towed into Rockville, South Carolina to have the engine worked on, we had no idea we would enjoy the area so much, we’d stay an extra day just to go to America’s only tea plantation. When we got to Telemar Bay Marina at Indian Beach Harbour on January 5, 2010, we definitely had no intentions of buying a house in West Melbourne, Florida on February 26,2010. We are excited to see what wonderful experiences our journey to the Bahamas has in store for us. If Gary and I have learned anything during our cruising aboard White Swan, it is to live everyday to the fullest and don‘t be afraid to experience whatever God has in store for us as any given moment.

Gary has continually done the necessary upkeep on White Swan. However, there were still numerous little projects requiring his attention, keeping him terribly busy clear up to the time of our departure from Telemar Bay Marina.

Two days before our departure, Cheryl Byers and I spent the day shopping for provisions. Since we only plan on being in the Bahamas for a month, I tried to think of everything we would possibly need during that time, other than fresh fish, which Gary will catch. He purchased a fishing spear (I told him I am NOT getting in the water with him when he’s using that thing) as well as special lines and lures that he will use as trolling lines off the boat as we travel from place to place. I’ve never gutted and cleaned a fish before. If he will kill it and gut it, I think I will be able to manage skinning and filleting it. Buying fish in the store already prepared to cook is one thing; looking it in it’s eyes while alive, knowing you have at take it’s life to feed yourself, is something all together different. Now that I have to seriously address this situation, I can see why some people are adamantly opposed to eating meat and become vegans. For now, I’ll just insist he do the dauntless deed of killing the fish, and I’ll do the dastardly deed of preparing it for our inhumane consumption.

In the previous paragraph, I mentioned Cheryl Byers accompanied me while shopping for provisions for our month stay in the Bahamas. Cheryl, and her husband, Ed, are also going to the Bahamas aboard their boat, Lady Bug, a sister-ship to White Swan. They plan on cruising there for three months. They have been to the Bahamas at least thirty times, so they obviously have a plethora of “local knowledge”. We are going to follow them down the ICW to West Palm, Florida, and make our crossing of the Gulf Stream out of Lake Worth Inlet. There is another Gemini owner awaiting our arrival at West Palm, who is going to cross over with us. So, there will be three Gemini catamarans making the crossing at the same time. I’m trusting there will be “safety in numbers”. We will wait for a good weather window to go across the Gulf Stream, which is the number one guarantee of a safe passage. Waiting for the good weather window may take days, or it may be good as soon as we get to West Palm. Traveling across the Gulf Stream to the Bahamas is a ten hour passage. Plan A is to leave at daybreak and arrive at Grand Bahama Island by evening. We are anticipating not needing Plan B or C. Just in case, remember to follow our trip on “Spot” and call the United States Coast Guard if you see we are traveling way past the north end of Grand Bahama Island.

Back to preparing for this journey: the day before we left, Gary remained busy paying last minute bills, banking, making sure the accountant had all she needed from us to complete the filing of our income taxes, as well as finishing projects on the boat, preparing it for our departure. I cleaned the house, did last minute laundry (YEAH!!!, by the way, the REAL reason we bought a house in Florida is so I don’t have to schlep laundry to a laundromat. NOT!!!), and I completed the inventory list for the boat and stowed everything away. Fresh meat was divided up into single meal portions, wrapped, labeled and put in our very small freezer. Vegetables and fruits, such as onions, potatoes, garlic, grapefruit, oranges, lemons and limes were hung in mesh bags in an aft berth. The more fragile vegetables and fruits are kept in baskets in the galley. The canned and dry goods are in bins and put in both the starboard and port aft berths, dispersing the weight so the boat doesn’t list to one side. A lesson learned is the next time we provision the boat for an extended cruise, I will use bins with lids for the canned goods as well as the dry goods, as all the cans in the bins with no lids quickly rusted from all the humidity on the boat.

We’ve been told, doing laundry in the Bahamas is very expensive, up to $12.00 to do one load. With that in mind, I’ve brought enough bedding, towels and outerwear to last us the month. I plan on doing very little laundry while on this trip. YEAH!!!

We had a water maker installed on White Swan in the fall of last year, so we can make our own water after we get into clear sea water. Using it while cruising on the Chesapeake Bay or the ICW would have been futile as we would have had to continually change the filters. Our system will take the sea water into it and make approximately a gallon of potable water per hour. Our water tanks hold 60 gallons of water and the solar panel on our boat will power the water maker enough to keep us in good supply while in the Bahamas. By the time we get to the islands, our meat supply in the freezer will be down enough, I can start using our Tupperware ice trays and make ice for drinks. We should be pretty self-sufficient and not be in need for much of anything, other than fuel for the boat and propane for the galley stove and refrigerator.

We also had an inverter installed last fall, which has been invaluable. An inverter converts DC current (batteries are DC current) to AC current (house current). When we use the motor on the boat, it sends power to the inverter. The inverter is large enough to power small items like a coffee grinder, cell phones, laptop computer and even our microwave if used for just a few minutes. When we are motoring, we can use it for power to the refrigerator. Some boaters use generators to help power the aforementioned items. We chose not to use a generator because we would have to carry more fuel to run a generator.

White Swan does not have all the amenities of a lot of boats. But on the other hand, she is quipped with more than the average. What we have chosen to equip her with, offers us a fair level of comfort. We’ve known cruisers who have cruised for years without a lot of the features of White Swan. And the owners of those boats are perfectly happy with what their particular boat offers. It really doesn’t matter how big or how small our boats are as long as they enable us to be on the water and enjoy the cruising lifestyle.

After Gary and I have had the opportunity to cruise in the Bahamas for a month, our friends from Bonita Springs, Florida, Dale and Phyllis Lentz, are going to fly over to Marsh Harbor, and cruise with us in the Abacos for a few days or how ever long it takes to get a good weather window to cross the Gulf Stream; and then they’ll make the passage back to the states with us. Dale and Phyd have chartered sailboats all over the world and are seasoned sailors. Their company, especially when we come back across the Gulf Stream, will be much appreciated.

Gary and I are so very excited about this trip. Taking our own boat to the islands will be a dream come true for us. Some people have been surprised that we are still going after buying our new house in Florida. Those who REALLY know us, would be surprised if we DIDN’T continue on to the Bahamas.