2014-03-31 Cruising For Real – A Couple Days In the Life

There is nothing–absolutely nothing – half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.”
– Kenneth Grahame, The Wind in the Willows

As the Admiral and I prepared to get Magnolia underway from Vero, the Admiral noted a failed bilge pump in her pre-departure checklist. Note: The Admiral ALWAYS tests the bilge pumps as part of our pre-departure checklist. Hmmm…where are we going to get a replacement? Where is there a West Marine that we can get too? A little googgling showed a West Marine in Melbourne, FL that was in walking distance of the anchorage. Excellent.  So we motor Magnolia the 25 miles to Melbourne, get the dinghy in the water and walk to the West Marine, no problem, mission accomplished. We stop for a bite to eat at a Squid Lips, do squid actually have lips?   The next morning we get right to work on the adding additional insulation to the freezer box. That takes the most part of the day and then tackle a couple of smaller projects, including installing that bilge pump, before shutting down for the day. As we discuss plans forward, it seems we have a disconnect on provisions. Suddenly realize we need to get a few fresh groceries before going off shore to St Mary’s GA. Back to Google finds us a Publix Grocery store right across the Banana River from where we are anchored. First thing yesterday morning we get Magnolia underway from our western anchorage about 1.5 miles east to a place called Dragon Point on the eastern shore. We get anchored, Annette goes to work on the sunshade she is updating and I drop the dinghy in the water and motor to shore, then walk to the Publix with my two provisioning bags. (Note: As we are anchoring I note an issue with the starboard rub rail that I need to tend too.) When I get to the dinghy landing beach I find the location is now fenced and posted. Hmm…head over to a marina a couple hundred yards away and after paying $10.00 to park the dinghy, I walk over to the Publix to get our 30lbs. of provisions, and walk back to the marina. Load the dinghy and head back out to Magnolia at anchor where Annette helps me unload provisions. While Annette stores provisions, I take the dinghy back to the marina for a bag of ice and return once again to Magnolia. As Annette continues sewing I monitor the weather since there are is a chance of thunderstorms and go to work removing some rub rail screws and mixing and injecting epoxy into the rotted wood I found.  I notice an uptick in the winds and rain starts which are now coming up in the 25 knot range. I move to the cockpit and monitor the situation, ready to start the engine if the anchor were to drag. The winds are blowing at 38 knots (43 miles per hour). Magnolia is doing fine.  The winds clock from the west to the north so I know the worst is over. As the winds subside we are given a beautiful sunset. This morning (Sunday) Annette got right to sewing, while I watched the Sunday morning talking heads on TV and sort through a pile of nuts and bolts. After a couple of hours of that, I fight the desire to jump over the side and drown myself! Instead I install a replacement fuel filter in the dinghy, drill and replace the screws in the repaired rub rail and make a modification to small starboard project I have been working on. Annette finished the enclosure sunscreen, made some sandwiches and make plans to move Magnolia to Cocoa Village to meet our friends Greg & Marie. So the take away is:

1) Everything you want to accomplish on a boat takes longer than anyplace else on earth! That includes doing laundry, groceries, sewing or going out for a bite to eat!

2) There is always something to be done on a boat so if you don’t embrace the opening paragraph, well buy an old car and stay on land.

3) There is no greater satisfaction than “making it all work.” Whether that is sailing from the Abacos across the Gulf Stream or fixing that nagging water leak when it rains.

The bottom line is this life is very fun, very rewarding, but it is not a free ride. There is a huge amount of work with it! In spite of that, we highly recommend it!

2014-03-29 Family, Friends & Camaraderie (Vero Beach, FL)

This is not going to be one of those picture posts instead I am actually going to try and write something so stick with me here. I was talking with my friend, Jack Tennar, this  morning about this and that and the hope to be up his way for a visit early June. A couple of things dawned on me.

#1 How lucky we have been to share such great moments and friends as we have traveled this winter. We cannot begin to list all the wonderful people we have met – each with such interesting stories. In addition to our friends who we have traveled with extensively on Eleanor Q, we have made new friends nearly every place we have visited. I am sure there are some acquaintances we may never see again and other friends we shall call from our wheel chairs and say, “remember that winter of ‘13 when we sailed to the Bahamas?” I look forward to that call…EVENTUALLY!

#2 Try never to take for granted that there will be a next visit, grab them when you can! My second cousin, Penny, visits Vero Beach for a couple of months every winter to escape from her mountain in Colorado. We have crossed paths one way or the other for nearly 40 years and NEARLY missed an opportunity for a reunion in Vero. We don’t get to see each other that often but I always enjoy our visits.  So thankfully the weather cooperated and allowed us to get back west with barely days to spare for a delightful visit with her.

#3 Take a moment and send that email that says “you doin’ ok?” I received such an email from a former supervisor this week and what a treat it was. I am somewhat infamous for dropping an email from outta no where (which my mother chides me about) but when it happens to you it is a real treat. It often saddens me when we loose touch with people in our lives. Sure, people grow and interests lie elsewhere and time is always short. I always think its better to stay a little connected than lost forever…just say’n.

So to those friends we have met along the way, we look forward to crossing wakes again. To our friends and family back on land, we might roam the waterways, but we will always be returning and look forward to visiting with each of you. Mims/Vickie in Charleston, SC; Pete Saunders in Sunset, NC; Cleckners in Swansboro, NC — all be ready, we are on the way in the next couple of months. Tennar family, expect us early June because it really is all about camaraderie.  Just say’n….

2014-03-27 Passage West to the States

Before going further need to wish two good friends a very Happy Birthday. Kathy Tennar my friend of more years than we wish to admit and fellow cruiser Al Watson, Happy Birthday!

The passage west from Hope Town was planned for just about 200 miles so we decided to break it up into two segments, each with there own challenge. The first leg was from Hope Town to Spanish Cay which included a trip through the Whale Cut Inlet and the second crossing the Gulf Stream at night.


First through we passed through the some amazing clear water that appeared to be Star Fish central. There were everywhere for about a mile. We had never seen such a concentration of them before and as you can see the sighting was easy!




There is large bar behind Whale Cay which forces all passing vessels to go out and around the Cay. In addition the Whale can be very unforgiving when passage is poorly timed in regards to tide against wind. We timed our passage so the tide and wind went the same direction!




This particular mariner did not do as well. It is a 100 foot barge that did not successfully navigate the Whale and stands as a reminder to all who pass.



Below is are track as we passed the Whale.


After a restful night anchored at Spanish Cay it was time to get on the move.  We had a number of squalls chasing us out of the Bahamas! They came close but never did we get a drop of rain.



The Admiral at the helm and double checking our route.


The balance of our flotilla with our friends on Eleanor Q center frame.


Our plan was to cross the Little Bahmas Bank during daylight hours and then the Gulf Stream and open ocean overnight. The sun was setting as we approached the edge of the bank


We knew we were back in the USA when we came right into a traffic jam and had to wait for a large barge to enter Fort Pierce inlet before us.


After spending time in the Bahamas that has nearly zero navigation aids seeing this marker seemed quite odd!


A stroll around the deck uncovered two interlopers that caught a ride.  Sadly these two flying fish missed their connection!


We had a very successful crossing and after entering Fort Pierce Inlet we continued onto Vero Beach for a visit with my cousin Penny and a few days of R&R!


2014-03-25 Packing Up & Moving On (Abacos Part III)

The oncoming Easter Holiday signals the beginning of the cruiser migration north and west. When you only have a week left you make the most of it. The week started with a couple mile walk out into the country and not in, but near the middle of no-where! I must confess we made two trips to “Papa Nastys BBQ.” (Hope Town Abacos) This was not the best pulled pork barbeque in the Bahamas, it was I think the best pulled pork I have tasted ANYWHERE! I have tried a fair number of places all over the south and darn this was really good!


Like I said, we descended on the place and yes that is it. A trailer with a frame around it. Mr. Nasty is center in the orange shirt, nice guy!


Our next mission was to join the Sip Sip Sot organization of Hope Town. Yes, of course it is a real organization, there are membership cards! Smile


As you can read below there is a great humor associated with the organization, but from the little exposure we have had, they are more serious about the charity than might first be apparent. I think they try to down play the charity all the while catching a pretty fair share in the collection tray! 

Greetings Sots,

In case you have no idea why you joined this illustrious yet somewhat dubious organization, then you are definitely Sip, Sip, Sot material, and you have found a home. If you are sober enough to read this newsletter, then now is the time for us to enlighten you about the organization’s history, origins, purpose, and goals.


In June of 2009, four friends got together for a few sips of their beverage of choice. While enjoying their drinks and the glow of companionship they had an idea. Why not found a group that had as its purpose nothing but chatting with friends over a flagon (or wine glass, or tumbler)? A group without rules, directories, by-laws, meetings, committees, or fundraisers. Our only goal would be to gather like minded souls for the camaraderie.

Because the four friends were besotted with the idea and were sitting at the Wine Down Sip Sip, they decided that the name of this august group of friends should be the Sip Sip Sots. This was not meant as a denigrating appellation but as a lilting bit of fanciful sibilance with just a touch of alliteration.

After a few more sips we had another idea. Perhaps some of the local island establishments that sell spirits might want to solicit the good will of such a jolly group of friends. If that were the case, then the proprietors of these businesses might make it worth our while to have our gatherings with them. We mused,“might they add some time to their Happy Hour prices for us?” “Might they provide us some goodies to be nibbled whilst we sip?” Well, after some investigation, we found that The Abaco Inn, Sea Spray, and The Lodge were willing to entertain such an idea if enough of our members were in attendance. The Wine down Sip Sip also was willing to offer their establishment as a headquarters!


Our last job then, was to gather around us friends with like minds. When you joined, we asked that a fee of $5.00 be given to the founding members. This is for all their efforts, and to defray the cost of membership cards, newsletters, and rosters, and the major portion goes to Friends of Abaco Animals, a charity that provides for abandon, homeless and needy animals. This is a one time assessment for a lifetime membership (your card expires when you do).




As we were the last to depart from the weekly membership meeting, keep in mind we left at 8:30 PM, it was a successful evening! No the week was not over yet! (You are right, we really need to get on the road.) The next day was a full moon so there is the monthly dinghy raft up and drift. How this works is everyone brings a drink and a snack to share and the dinghys are lashed together. As the tide heads out the whole raft floats across the harbor till sunset.



Dick did not seem to enjoy the last round of snackage!


Our new friends from Cutting Class (Dan & Marcia) via our friends on Kindred Spirit, see how this works?


Anything look familiar? Yup that’s Magnolia in the background as we drifted past.


Our friends Frank & Mary Marie returned “home” from a trip to New Jersey so a quiet evening back at Sip Sip was in order.


Our last day in port always consist of getting the boat back ready to get underway. Taking on fuel, water and any last minute provisions. The most important thing though is getting our “heads in the game” of handling Magnolia underway.




Our upcoming passage to Florida is a little different in that it will be our longest and our first crossing of the Gulf Stream at night. Does not sound like much, but there is the appropriate level of anxiety as we prepare. See you on the other side!!!

2014-03-15 Abacos Part II – Lighthouse – Friends – Universe

Some of our long time readers will remember our friends on Kindred Spirit. (See 2013-09-29 Living the Moment–Class of 2013 for a refresher) We traveled part of the trip south together, but ended up going to different parts of the Bahamas. We had not planned to visit the Abacos, but the “universe” suggested a course change and we ended up coming north after all. The disappointing part of our arrival in the Abacos was we missed Al & Michele by 3 days! We each had commitments. Missing each other by 3 days was a real bummer. On the upside we will see them in a few short months in their home state of Connecticut and we are looking very forward to that visit. Our mutual friends on Eleanor Q were already in Hope Town and when we arrived. When people heard we knew Al & Michele, well we were taken in to the fold as well!

I intended to write about the VERY unique Hope Town lighthouse, but I cannot do the subject justice so I am going to ask you take a moment and read Michele’s description and history of this unique place. (Elbow Reef Lighthouse – “The Candy Striped Lighthouse”)

Welcome back. Michele does a MUCH better job than I do! I can add some of our own pictures though!





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Getting back to that Universe thing. You might remember how this adventure began 5 years ago. (2013-11-05 Dealers, Enablers, “What is Possible”, All in 5 Years) Well as we are walking down the street we meet a couple and their two children. They are on S/V Taia which is a Morgan 46. Well as it turns out their boat was formally known as Liberty and owned by our friends Ty & Suzanne. This was the very first sailboat Annette and I ever set foot on and it is right here in Hope Town Harbor. Under the category of small world — unbelievable!

2014-03-05 Abacos, Bahamas Part I

Magnolia really enjoyed her stay in the Exumas but the migration must continue and with the coming of spring means moving north.  After traversing up the Exuma chain we jumped across the Yellow Bank to Eleuthera, Royal Island. The passage across the Northeast Providence Channel is a 58 miles so it makes for a very full day. Of course we picked the day where there was absolutely no wind. The only waves were these 4-6 foot long duration rollers.


Something we had never seen before was this fishing boat with it herd of smaller boats. It looked like a duck with its young from a distance.


After crossing over and entering the cut at Little Harbor we dropped the hook at Lynard Cay. This was a huge day for us because it was the first time we sailed into a place where we had previously flew in an chartered a boat. The blue line is our track from a few years ago and the magenta line where we anchored this trip. What a hoot!


Lynard Cay anchorage.


Looking (and feeling) a little scruffy after a long day!


Arriving Hope Town we were given a personal escort from our friends on Eleanor Q. They even reserved a a mooring ball in the field, how great is that?




A walk along the shore before a squall comes ashore.


Magnolia moored among the hordes in Hope Town


We met the Canadian’s on our crossing of the Gulf Stream from Florida. We have been crossing paths ever since have always enjoyed their company. All of the Canadians we have met have been very very kind and inviting.


So that was our first few days in Hope Town. We will be getting into work mode for the next few days with Annette making some jerry can covers a few sewing repairs here and there and I getting some varnish on the cap rails and polish on the stainless. Just regular boat chores that need to make time for now and then!

2014-02-04 “So Mrs. Lincoln, How was the play?”

I will get to the “play” in a moment but a little catch up. Magnolia departed Georgetown last Wednesday as expected and had a great sail up to Black Point. Winds came up and we wanted the break so we took an extra day there and caught up on Downtown Abbey episodes. Fast internet is a treat in this world!


It is always such a treat to check your anchor in the Bahamas. Just look over the side of the boat and this is likely what you will see in 15ft of water!

We made a quick motor north to Cambridge Cay which is part of the Exuma Land & Sea Park and home to the “Sea Aquarium” snorkel spot. We missed it on the way south and we were not going to pass this snorkelling highlight again.


A little more background, in the Exumas you can make passages on the “sound” (white) or on the “bank.” (blue). Sometimes you have a choice, sometimes the “bank” side is too shallow so you are forced into the sound. We like to get out on the sound whenever we can because it often makes sailing easier and has greater depths.  Then again, it often has higher winds and bigger waves. 


This is looking at O’Brien’s Cut (entrance) from the sound on the calmest day you can imagine.  We won’t show you the pictures of what it looked like when we left (the exact opposite creating a challenging morning!).


Once on the inside we were rewarded with a beautiful anchorage at Bell Island. In addition, our friends from S/V Journey (Drena and JR) were anchored there as well.

Over the last year or so we have followed S/V Journey’s (www.sailingjourney.net) blog since they were also “class of 2013/14” and also from the Chesapeake Bay.  We actually did not meet them until all the way in Vero Beach, FL in the fall. We are so impressed by this couple. They are a “little” younger than we are and have worked very hard to make their opportunity to “cruise.” The amazing thing to us is they figured this all out at an age when we did not even have a clue what “cruising” was! 


On our way to Sea Aquarium and passed Johnny Depp’s private island.  Drena swore he waved…

S/V Journey is a 1986 O’Day 35 which is nearly the same vintage as Magnolia, and although a little smaller, just as beautiful. I was very excited to finally see the water maker JR designed and built from scratch along with the flexible solar panels they installed. Note: Here is the reference to the “play.” Drena and JR were kind enough to invite us over for dinner and see Journey as well as meet their cat, Leo., and get a kitty fix. Second Note: Canvas on boats lasts a long time and what usually fails is the thread that holds said canvas together. It becomes quite weak from exposure to the sun. So as I am touring the boat, I loose my footing, slip and put my arm right through the corner of their dodger. I am horrified! Holy you know what, I want to find a hole and crawl in it! Actually I had just made one, but crawling through would only make it bigger. Annette offered to sew it but they were itching to get underway and we ended up going separate directions the next day.  Drena is an excellent Seamless Sailor, so she will have it under control soon I’m sure.  It’s bad enough to have an accident on your boat, but so much worse on someone else’s.


The picture was taken after “the shot was fired” so we are hoping that all can be forgiven! Smile We are looking forward to seeing Journey again, hopefully they are too!