2018-04-16–Threading the needle..

When we departed St Augustine we knew we would be threading the needle on weather…though the calendar says April the strength of the still occasional fronts still makes us think March! Slowly but surely we are making progress towards the Chesapeake Bay.

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As long time readers may remember, we generally get off shore from Georgia and South Carolina. In this region there are very big tides and many many shoaling hazards. The upside to going inside is that we get to stop into Beaufort, SC and visit Pentagon Sailing Club members Jerry & Winnie. Jerry was actually one of our instructors early on. We had wonderful time catching up and glad to hears is all is well in their world!

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It was a two day trip up to Charleston where we caught up S/V Cutting Class and scored an invited to lunch at Slightly North Of Broad (SNOB) for the locals. At the time little did I realize we would be celebrating Marcia’s Birthday!

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For reason that are not excatly clear to me, I had never in my life had Shrimp and Grits. Dan and Marcia assured us these were the best on the east coast so how could I not make that my lunch selection? Though a picture was missed we did get a visit from Vickie and her cute puppie Sammy….one of the few pups that could make the cut as a member of the crew!!!

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From Charleston we made a long day of it up into the  Waccamaw ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Waccamaw_River). One of our favorite regions on the east coast. To celebrate I broke out my every-other-month cigar, enjoyed a beer and barbeque dinner with the Admiral….she declined a cigar!

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Early morning opening request for Socastee Bridge (https://www.sciway.net/sc-photos/horry-county/socastee-swing-bridge.html)

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A stop into Mytle Beach Yacht Club for a visit with my Honeywell days buddy Pete is a requirement as well as a taste of the best wings on the east coast!

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Arriving in Southport NC we were shuttled off to an evening of music, fun, food and catching up with our friends Joe & Christine.

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Sunday Brunch Southport was the perfect top off to a fun filled weekend.  Thank you Joe & Christine for making us feel so very welcome!

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As this post started with weather, we had an extra lay day with a severe front passing through last evening. Lots of rain, wind and lightening. Underway for Swansboro tomorrow though!

2018-04-01–Back in Low Country

After departing Vero Beach we set a comfortable pace up the Intracoastal Waterway  (ICW) taking a our first pause at New Smyrna Beach where we took a lay day to go and explore a bit. We have stopped at NSB before and its a wonderful little town.

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A couple more days underway brought us to St Augustine. We always stop here because it is the home of my Great Uncle Wayne. Wayne was a little under weather so we took a day to give out legs a good stretch around town. First stop was the beautiful Flagler College.

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While Annette took in some additional touring I partook of my favorite pastime. A quiet spot, in this case a lovely veranda, to just sit, relax and enjoy this moment, in the place I happen to be in…Truly the high moments of this life we lead.

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The other treat of this life is the unplanned intersections of our travel and those of our friends. The first surprise was our friends Paul and Paula from Canada. They too have purchased a trawler and were delivering there recently sold sailboat to St Augustine. We had a wonderful afternoon visit of catching up and making loose plans to see each other this summer as Magnolia makes our passage though Canada.

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Side Note: Did you know there is a cruise line that does cruises along coastal USA? We see these small ships at many places along the coast. I find it an interesting (https://www.americancruiselines.com/)

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Magnolia on a mooring ball just off the National Guard Armory.

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Looking south to the Bridge Of Lions.

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Magnolia in the mooring field viewed from the Bridge of Lions as we walk over to Uncle Waynes.

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Carmen laid out a fantastic brunch, complete with a bit of Champagne!!!

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Wayne is 99 and I am so hopeful I did not draw from the shallow end of the gene-pool! At 99 he is an amazing man!

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My cousins, Barbara and Pam along with Pams husband Larry. We had a couple lovely visits with family always a treat!

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Going back to the those accidental intersections…Annette’s friend Carol and her husband happened to be in town on vacation as well. We had a terrific lunch and a nice afternoon walk around town.

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But no, there is more!!! Our friends Dan & Marcia on S/V Cutting Class arrived just before our scheduled departure. We had a lovely evening aboard and catching up. They had a lousy weather day so we declared “traveler rule.” Thats when one boat is traveling that day so the boat that does not travel makes and has a good hot meal for that vessel that traveled that day. (Dates back to year one with Eleanor Q days!)

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Back underway heading for Georgia!

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Georgia and South Carolina have these huge low land marshes. We see dolphins and more types of birds than we will ever begin to know.

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There are even some mornings more spectacular than we can believe. The below was taken South Altamaha River just before we pulled up the anchor to get underway.

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Hilton Head Island – the famous view of Harbour Town

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We are taking a break over the Easter holiday in  Beaufort SC. It is a lovely town and we really enjoy being back here. Its been a couple years.

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The Admiral heading off to Easter Services.

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We have another one of those accidental intersections lined up tomorrow but that will have to wait till the next addition. Hope you have a wonderful week!

2018-03-21–Tennar’s Aboard

Good fortune smiled upon us as we were departing Stuart Yacht Tennars were able to come down for a long weekend aboard Magnolia. As things worked out, they were able to get a taste of the whole cruising experience. The first night we were at the dock at Stuart Yacht and strolled to the local Roma Pizza for dinner.

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Up early the next morning we made all the regular pre-departure checks, including oil in the Lugger main engine.

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Jack I worked Sea & Anchor detail on the same line on Ticonderoga in 1983

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Lots of years but little has changed…feel blessed get Magnolia underway.

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Once underway, Jack and Kathy relaxed and on the VIP setee and enjoyed the ride down to Fort Pierce.

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Next time they will be calling for the bridge openings!

 

We anchored in a little protected cove just short of Fort Pierce for lovely evening on the hook.

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Crew anticipating happy hour…I mean really anticipating!!!!

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See now take this as a good crew lesson…Jack busted open the Oreo’s for a little pre-departure Sea & Anchor Snack! Lesson for perspective crew….

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Saturday morning in Fort Pierce, boat traffic was picking up early. We anticipated this and made sure we would be into Vero Beach early.

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Arriving early afforded a walk out to beach and as you can see we had PERFECT weather.

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We even stumbled into some live lunch time music which made a perfect afternoon topper.

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Another shipmate, Mike Camacho and his family drove a long way to meet us for dinner! We have them booked for the south bound Magnolia Passage Fort Pierce to Stuart in the fall.

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The next day we got a car and drove Jack & Kathy back to PBI. On the way though we just had to pop in and see our friend Mims in Palm Beach.

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We had a wonderful weekend and Jack and Kathy were real troopers being aboard a strange environment. They have also become our sole Plank-Owner Crew Members since the more stringent PQS requirements have to been instituted. Thank you to Jack & Kathy for making the effort and taking the time to come visit. Mike & Michelle, thanks to you for driving to Vero and Mims, always the quintessential hostess. Thank you. Next week, heading north!

2018-03-14 Cape Coral to Stuart

I will not bore you with excuses for the latest of this blog except for the un-ending fun we have been having and some work too! After leaving Sanibel after a visit with Acadia we made the short hop to Cape Coral to lay low for the holiday weekend. We try and stay stationary on the weekend to avoid boat traffic. Soon after our arrival Ted & Sally arrived aboard Amici! We always have a swell time and always good to catch up!

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Magnolia at anchor in Cape Coral, view from Amici

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Of course the Admiral but not the best picture, she did look good in a new dress from our friends at The Looke!

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These two sisters run a shop at the Westin Cape Coral. (https://www.facebook.com/TheLookeofCapeCoral/)

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Amici heading out to Fort Meyers as we head back across FL for Stuart

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“Over hill, over dale, across FL we go”

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There are 5 locks we transit as we cross the state, raising and lowering us about 15ft.

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I have mentioned that we always try stay on the safe side as we are living on the water. This time it paid off. We were the only ones in a particular lock with our life jackets on and the lock master awarded us for our efforts. In reality the paperwork associated with fall overboard and not drowning is probably alot less for him than if we actual drown!!!

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Once across the state we anchored a couple miles from the boat yard and a very relaxing very quiet oxbow  anchorage. We enjoyed a relaxing afternoon and a quiet dinner….

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That was until about 9pm and all hell breaks loose on the starboard side. It seemed that a small boat struck us and got tangled up with us until I came out and this smelly mullet was hopping around like a fish out of water…well in fact this fish really jumped out of the water and aboard. There must have been something big down there t chase a 16 inch mullet aboard. After he calmed down and before he expired, we returned him to the water though I was unable to wash the smell off my hands!!

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Arriving Stuart Yachts we found our friend Colin in town checking on the progress if his boat Tortuga. Perfect night to get out for some Thai food!

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Tortuga forward of Magnolia at Stuart Yacht.

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We also was able to visit a couple nights with our friend Jennifer. She is a hoot and always good comraderie!

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We completed a number of projects while in the boat yard. We plumbed in the salt water wash-down system that my friend Al Watson helped me install while he was aboard on VACATION!!!! Thank you Al, so far so good!

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We also got the oil change pump plumbed in and did our first oil change.

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In addition we made a wiring change so we can now run the cloths washer underway and not just at the dock as well as a major safety add with a hinge and strut for the aft engine room access. A very successful and fun couple of weeks. Next week we have some very exciting VIP guests arriving.

2018-02-22–Beware Of The Weakest Link

We generally stay clear of religious questions on this blog and this post is the closest we will ever come. Anchors are one of the most hotly debated issues in boating.  Let me state first, I am only saying what WE do on Magnolia. I am not telling you what to do, only that this is what WE do…..First of all on Magnolia the sailboat we used a Rocna 33kg (55lbs) and loved it. It set quickly and ALWAYS stopped us from floating away. We did loose the anchor and all the chain once (http://a2baker.com/magnoliablog/?p=5679), but that’s another story. When we purchased Magnolia the trawler she came equipped with a 75lb CQR. We missed our Rocna though and at the last minute before leaving Stuart we dropped another “boat unit” for a Vulcan anchor. The Vulcan is made by Rocna specifically designed for the bow a of a power boat. When I purchased the Rocna I always regretted not getting the upsized 35kg (73lbs) model. Magnolia-M is equipped with a hydraulic windlass and as my friend Ron on Mandala says: “I want the bow of this boat to be underwater before that windlass quits.” Thankfully we have that windlass, and enough boat to handle the Vulcan 40 (88lbs). I confess, I considered a 50kg (121lbs) but even I thought that might be getting carried away! In the end we went for the biggest, best anchor we could carry.

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I purchased the anchor at West Marine and wanted to pick up some fresh shackles to install with our fresh anchor. I picked up the only ones West Marine had and off I went. After returning aboard and doing a little research I realized I essentially purchased junk and here is why. Magnolia-M is equipped with 3/8 inch G40 chain. This chain has a safe working load of 5400 lbs. To attach the anchor I use a shackle one size larger than the chain, 7/16 in this case and then a 1/2 to connect to the anchor.

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Sadly I discovered the West Marine 7/16 anchor chain shackle only had a safe working load of 3000lbs. Nearly 45% lower than the chain!!! That’s just nuts. It was not long before I got hooked into Crosby shackles which I learned is a highly regarded manufacturer. The Crosby 7/16 shackle has a safe working load of 5880 lbs which is more than the chain. That is what I consider success.

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I almost missed this safer shackle which is why I wanted to share this brief update, hoping that you don’t either!!!

2018-02-19 Catch Up Mode…AGAIN!

Our ships photographer, Michele Watson took this photo during their most recent visit .

Departing Bradenton FL we crossed Tampa Bay and made a short passage to St Petersburg.

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St Petersburg skyline framed by Magnolia bow pulpit.

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We anchored in Vinoy Basin which is a wonderful mooring field as long as the wind is NOT from the east….from the east, well its like anchoring inside a Maytag during the agitation cycle!

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Out friend Ty & Suzanne came down from The Villages. They are the ones responsible for taking us for out first boat ride. The full story is detailed here: http://a2baker.com/magnoliablog/?p=2295 They have always been there to offer help and they even provided refuge during hurricane Irma. Thank you again and always Ty & Suzanne!

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A wonderful shot of Magnolia taken by a fellow boater.

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Our friend John and his brother Marty use to keep their sailboat Escapade in the slip next to Magnolia-M in Galesville, MD. Since our departure both brothers have relocated to FL along with Escapade. It was a great night hanging with John and there family friend Pat on exile from her iced over home in Illinois!

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You may not see them, but those were the best BLTs I have eaten anywhere anytime. Fabulous! (Tiki St Pete Beach)

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We have been members of the Seven Sea Cruising Association for a number of years, but have not been able to attend a GAM in a couple. Lucky for us  there was one scheduled in St Pete.

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We always appreciate a little weather lesson from our weather guru Chris Parker. He was recently promoted to Chief Forecaster!

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We planned an easy several day passage to CayoCosta State Park to celebrate Valentines Day.

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Departing St Pete and heading down Tampa Bay we approach the beautiful Sunset Skyway Bridge. We always take a moment though to consider the terrible tragedy that occurred here in 1980! (http://www.fox13news.com/wtvt-archive/1980-sunshine-skyway-bridge-tragedy)

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And now to out nuisance hour…that is the Tom Adams bridge…that is down…as in broken down…as in for several days.  Lucky for us our mast now folds down with just a little bit of effort. We dropped the hook, lowered the mast and were able to safely past underneath the next morning.

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The Admiral stated she wanted 2 NON-workdays at the beach which being a wise Captain I ensured she received!

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Our friends on Amici arrived the night before we departed so were able to get in a brief visit and celebratory happy hour.

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Our next stop was to Sanibel Island. We had never been there before and our friends from Acadia so that was more than enough reason for a stop by.

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Our friends Tim & Diane rolled out the welcome mat and even shared Dianes Birthday celebration. A swell time had by all!

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Next stop Cape Coral for some dress shopping….yup, dress shopping!

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2018-02-01–Visiting on the West Coast

After our visit to the west coast of Florida last year we very much looked forward to returning. Our transit across the state Florida via the Okeechobee went as expected and then we headed north towards our first port visit to Punta Gorda.

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Magnolia at Lashley Park Marina. This was out first visit to this marina and found it to be a real treat…the fact there is a homemade ice cream store at the end of the dock did little to influence our opinion!

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Our primary reason for coming up Charlotte Harbor was to see our friends Will & Barbara. Will was one our original instructors when we were just learning to sail with the Pentagon Sailing Club. We had a wonderful time catching up and spending time together. We also want to thank Will & Barbara for being extraordinary port hosts. They made endless effort to ensure we got our errands run and to ensure we had all we needed. Thank you so very much!

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Will & Barbara are members of the Punta Gorda Boat Club. We have perfect timing because just like last year our visit coincided with the clubs monthly happy hour. Once again Will & Barbara invited us to attend and once again we had a terrific time. It was fun evening!

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Another missed picture opportunity was Beth & Ripp on Lab Partners! Silly me missed it in the first edit. They were in the middle of selling their boat as we arrived so visits were fleeting. We look forward to seeing their new vessel when we arrived in NC. We spent and entire week in Punta Gorda but our time flew by so fast! As soon as we made our way down the harbor towards the ocean we came upon a plenty of dolphins. We often see dolphins but seldom are we able to catch one with a camera!

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It is neat to me how things are different in different parts of the country. For instance we have bridges in the mid-Atlantic. I can think of only one ferry in the entire mid-Atlantic region. Along the coast barrier island in many regions communities really depend on the ferry service often on a daily basis.

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Our first days transit heading towards Bradenton.

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Second day into Bradenton..Tim Watson, not the light traffic on the second day!

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Speaking of light traffic…NOT…as soon as we walked into town we walked into the evening rush hour…this certainly is not D.C. level traffic but when I see this I immediately feel empathy towards those that still do this. Our lesson to all, get out, do something you enjoy, the rat race will survive just fine with out you…..I hate seeing this…

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We we knew and were looking forward to a VERY busy time in Bradenton but before guests arrived, a little Taco date-night just the two of us!

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Before the guests started arriving the Admiral went to town paying particular homage to the “Reverend Of Sole.”

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Out first visitors were my cousin Ben and his lovely wife Jessie. They recently relocated to the west coast of Florida so it was a particularly special visit for us. It was their first visit to a “Magnolia” so it was extra fun showing them around and giving them a little glimpse into a life that is a little different.

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Ok, I am cheating on this one but my friend and work colleague Ahne came to visit again this year. Her parents, she and the boys were all vacationing in FL again this year during our visit. Her parents are avid Lake Superior sailors and were excited to see the new Magnolia. We had a terrific visit and god bless those boys for their patience. We got so busy gabbing that I completely missed a picture…had to break one out from last year…we have to do better next year Ahne…those boys will be even bigger next!

Our friends Al & Michele came down for a visit. Al’s mother lives in the area so its great we can steal a little of their time to hang out. The last visit coincided with christening and he name changing of Magnolia in Stuart. This was the first time they had seen her since we finished in the yards and our first overnight guests!

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The following day we had a visit from Lee & Char from NJ. The live next our friends Jack & Kathy so they have heard us boat babble for years so it was a real treat to show them our home. Lee is one of our biggest followers so it was a blast of an evening!

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Having Al & Michele aboard added to the whole cruising experience!

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As with MANY great Magnolia moments, they are toasted with Ice Cream, sometimes other stuff, but always ice cream. Thank you Char and Lee for sharing your vacation with us!

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Cruising hotties on the beach!

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Once again I dropped the ball and missed getting a picture with Pat & Becky. We last saw Pat & Becky aboard Taurus last year in the Florida Keys. They were passing nearby and made time to come by for a visit. It was wonderful to see them again and when we get near Louisville again we will be stopping by!!! You are missed out here….know that.

Now one other couple that we did not meet up with was fellow Pentagon Sailing Clubers Bob & Corey. I have it on good information we will all be at the SSCA GAM next week so counting on seeing them then. In the meantime as we approach St Petersburg, Magnolia flys her “A2” burgee proudly

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We really do want to thank all of you who take time out of your busy days to come and visit. What we do is a little different and maybe a little weird but we do like to share what we do. Thank you all, be safe A**2

2018-01-17 Lake Okeechobee Crossing

We had a terrific time in Stuart but it was time to get our girl Magnolia underway and see how she does out in the wild. Our plan was to cross Florida via the Lake Okeechobee. 

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The Admiral does a great job at putting together a list of “events” we need to get through the following day. Things like bridge opening, locks and shallow spots.  

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The Pilothouse setup and ready to go, just need to pull the sunscreen.

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Finally, we are off as pictured by M/V Amici

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We hardly got going when we saw these to Bald Eagles looking for something to pick up for dinner.

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We entered our first lock and the doors are closed behind us.

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Our first nights stop was at Indiantown Marina when this guy came by looking for a snack to come his way. We were glad we were not it!

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As we began our transit across the lake we could see the smoke from what we believe was a sugar field burn off.

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Our second night was spent in Clewston, FL. I watched for sometime as these two faced off on who owns the roof!

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Our next night was planned to spend at anchor in the type of place we enjoy the most. We have a reputation of being “adventuresome” anchorers. We like to get off the beaten path for a night of quiet and solitude. Lolipop sounded right up our alley. As we approached the entrance it slowly revealed itself.

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The channel was not wide enough to turn around so we were committed.

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As we had hoped, we were rewarded with a surrounding cattle pasture.

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It was really funny about how the cows just stared as us as were were getting the anchor down…

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Speaking of, there was a small toast towards our anchor Vulcan on her first time down and taking responsibility for the vessels safety.

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The final day of our crossing ended in Glover Bight at Cape Coral FL. A well protected anchorage with some lovely views is always very welcome.

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We stayed and extra day to relax and enjoy a fine lunch ashore at Rumrunners!

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Off to Charlotte Harbor tomorrow!

2018-01-09 “Yes its next year…”

I keep wondering when things will slow down, not that anything is bad or anything, just that time flies by so fast!!! We finally got out of the boat yard once and for all…well at-least for now. December was spent getting use to our new home and most importantly reconnecting with family and friends…well yes there were a few boat chores tossed in there. Might as well as start there…yes, there is always a bilge pump switch needing to be swapped out. The bilges on this boat have not been cared for all that well so there is much more cleaning to get done….its an ongoing project.

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The saloon lighting also received an upgrade with some recessed light along the outer edges. We did something similar on the sail boat and were very happy with the outcome.

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The mooring field is part of Sunset Bay so you can obviously see where the name comes from.  I still think Tucson, AZ is the best place for sunsets, but this is a close second.

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Annette made a backing for the solar panel and it was my job to set the grommets. Sure glad we have this semi sledge hammer made for the job!

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We were able to meet up with my old Ticonderoga shipmate Mike for a pre-Christmas libation. He relocated to the Stuart are and it has been great reconnecting!

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Our friend Mimz returned to Florida from her cooler home….cannot believe she did not stay in the summer like we did. She did seem to enjoy her visit aboard. I am thinking she is a stow-away risk, a welcome one that is for sure.

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Annette’s sister Rochelle and Robins came for a vacation to FL and we were able to steal a little of there away time to spend with us. It was a terrific afternoon and fun evening.

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As we crept closer to the holiday season the weather crept closer to unacceptable. We had several days of down right cold temperatures! That fog is not from warm air…just say’n.

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Annette and i managed a 48 hour trip to DC for Christmas eve and Christmas day. We enjoyed an evening with my cousins and catching up with the other GenIV’s

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One surprise was the popularity of the Magnolia-M cap during the white elephant exchange. That cap changed hands several time!

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Back in Stuart, FL we celebrated a birthday on New Years eve. It was a fun time with Pegasus, Amici, Exuberant and Magnolia all together once again!

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Under that category of it takes a village…this 88lb Rocna Vulcan beast required the whole village to get aboard. My friend Burt helped me get the old CQR off the bow and delivered ashore. Out mutual friend Mary drove us uptown for the pickup and we got in the dink just before the weather really kicked up. We left is rest in the dink for a day till the wind laid down and Annette and I got her mounted on the bow. This monster is going to be making for some good sleep! ….btw, yes there are some “real” shackles on the way!

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We wrapped the holidays with Amici arriving in Stuart and much food and drink ensued. We managed time aboard and ashore!

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Exuberant and Amici beyond!

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Next post….we are FINALLY outta here!!!!

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Until then, be safe! A**2