2018-05-31 Galesville, MD — Great Kills, Staten Island, NY

We finished up our chores and visits in Galesville and boy did it feel good to be underway again! We did have some stops before heading north, first of which was a tank top up. Did not REALLY need fuel but did want to test out this fuel fill baffle device. I will tell you it worked like a champ (Clean Way Fuel)!

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Magnolia crossed the Chesapeake Bay, went up the Choptank River (think Mitchners Chesapeake), up Broad Creek and then up San Domingo Creek…yes really. Not only is this a lovely anchorage but it also offers super easy access to St Michaels, MD.

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The Pentagon Sailing Club was coming here for Memorial Day but before their arrival had the place to ourselves.

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The geese were in full training mode for the young ones.

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Had a complete test for the new grill and mount…thanks Rip!

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Morning radio nets were made easy by fine weather and good radio conditions.

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We made time to get ashore and enjoy a soft shell sandwich in St Mikes…there was of course Ice Cream!

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On Saturday the first PSC Boat to arrive was Bootlegger who won a bottle of wine for there accomplishment!

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Sunday we made the short trip to Brewers Marina Oxxford where there was much socializing and an evening dinner.

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Memorial Day Monday Magnolia was up and off early on passage to Rockhall, MD where we were to meet up with MV Arion.

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Arion is our sister-ship and Al & Arlene have been hugely helpful during the transition! Al & Arleen had looked at “AmyK” (Magnolia) before we purchased her and we were excited to share our restoration efforts. We had a wonderful dinner aboard Arion and a fun time catching up.

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Tuesday first thing we were up an underway and headed north…at that time we were really not sure how far we were going. We were tryign to decide if this was “our” weather window or we were waiting till later in the week. As we headed up the bay, Annette was checking with out weather router and decided we would go today…”go” meant we were headed straight for Great Kills NY, about a 230 mile passage.

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Of course we had the fog to contend with first.

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Luckily we have a pretty good radar and as long as you stay away from the “blobs” all is good!

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We transited the Chesapeake & Delaware Canal about mid day.

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We headed down Delaware Bay passing nearby Brandywine Light.

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There is a shortcut canal that goes through Cape May. In the past we were not able to transit it because of our sailboat mast.

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We approached the canal just about sunset, not the red and green marks at the approach.

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The early part of the canal was quite picturesque which the light of the setting sun.

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Upon departing Cape May we made an overnight passage up the New Jersey coast arriving in Great Kills, NY in the early afternoon.

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It was a GREAT start to our summer cruise. The next few days will find us taking care of some boat chores. We will also be shopping at my new favorite store Frank and Sal Italian Market. Tonight’s dinner was clams and pasta with a healthy dose of bread for mopping…I am in cooking heaven. For now though, “vessel and crew are well” and we are wishing the same for you.

2018-05-25–Hook Catch Up

Its was only 20 days ago that we arrived in Galesville, MD. our “home-port” as home as we get anyway.  We had been away nearly a year but it still definitely felt like home!

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Our visit was shorter than normal this year so we got right to work. We had Marine Techincal Services of Deale, MD install SmartPlug connectors on Magnolia. Annette had previously made cable covers for our new shore power cables. They also troubleshot a problem we were having with the Inverter. There are few contractors I can give a Magnolia 5 star rating but they are always there when they say they will, do great work at a reasonable cost…my five cents.

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We had many people to catch up with. First off the bat was part of our “freshman” class of 2013. SV Eleanor Q and SV Mandala! We cut our teeth together. Good to be together again.

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Under the category of freshman these two are just beginning their time aboard but are already surpassing anything we did! They purchased SV Remedy in the Caribbean and are literally in process of bringing here home to the Chesapeake. As I write this, they are departing Turks & Cacaos heading for “home.”

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Another MD based crew John & Lizzy we had not seen since Stuart FL. While we were getting Magnolia ready they were busy getting their new Cabo Rico 56 broken in. (and it is BEAUTIFUL) . It was great to share an evening catching up and swapping trip north stories!

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Our friend Jim from SV Kismet was left to his devices while his wife made a shore based trip.  He singlehanded Kismet down to the West River where we shared a wonderful dinner and evening together!

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Always a treat in Annapolis this time of the year, the Navy’s Blue Angels come to town for the Academy’s Graduation. We were guests aboard SV Exuberant where we a terrific view of the show, a great lunch and got a run-down on their Great Lakes experiences. More on that in a minute.

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I grill a LOT and was not happy with my last one. On the recommendation of Rip on MV Lab Partners I invested in this beauty. Its an O-Grill with a European heritage. So much so that the first time looked at the temperature gauge and it only showed about  250…scratched my head untill I realized it was 250C which is about 500F! I am in love!

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We also received our Chelsea Clock back from service. It was good to hear the bells again. It really sets the rhythm aboard Magnolia

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A trip home is NEVER complete without seeing my pal and his family. Those two ladies are the only ones I held as babies and now looking forward to the first wedding. Still unbelievable to me!!

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A spring golf cart trip is always a welcome afternoon.

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We were short on time this year to see everyone and so opened Magnolia on a Sunday afternoon. I so much enjoyed catching up with friends I completely forgot the camera. We did get a snap of dinner with some of my cousins (Go GenIV)!

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Another visit we really enjoyed was our friends from SV Journey. Journey was a boat we met on our freshmen year and always very impressed with their vision of their future. They were thinking about the same things we were but they were 15 years younger! We had a lovely evening aboard Magnolia catching up and sharing first world problems. Thank you for making time on a stormy weather night!

We got underway yesterday to start our summer adventure. I am writing from the Choptank River which was the setting for Mitchners Chesapeake. It is every bit beautiful as depicted and a great place to “hide-out” for a holiday weekend. Remember its Memorial Day and the reason for this holiday. “Memorial Day is an American holiday, observed on the last Monday of May, honoring the men and women who died while serving in the U.S. military. … Originally known as Decoration Day, it originated in the years following the Civil War and became an official federal holiday in 1971.”

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Note: I get so confused about privacy and what information to share on here whether its pictures or names etc. I have always highly protected names of minors and trying to have respect for information. If there is ever something on here that makes you feel uncomfortable, CONTACT ME and I will IMMEDIATELY make ANY edit to make you feel comfortable.

2018-04-29—Getting North

Departing Southport and St James the first traffic we came to was a super sized cargo ship arriving into the Cape Fear River.

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We made a long day trip from Southport to Camp Lejeune where we anchored for the night. We made and early arrival to Swansboro to visit with Annette’s cousin.

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From Swansboro it was onto Campbell Creek and a visit with MV Lab Partners and SV Braveheart.  We had a terrific couple of days gabbing with Mike, Kathy, Beth & Rip.

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The morning of departure from Campbell Creek gave us a wonderful sunrise with a slight foggy mist…always afforded a beautiful gift.

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100 miles to Portsmouth, VA

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We generally avoid car traffic but yet there is the occasional car ferry!

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We are having a problem with our Northern Light Generator so made a stop into Atlantic Yacht Basin to have that resolved. One of the tasks we had planned for our time in the Norfolk area was to get these kids out of storage.

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Being moored at AYB affords us a clear view of the Intercostal Waterway and all the various boats and barges that transit this section of the waterway. This portion of the waterway bypasses the notorious Cape Hatteras so I assume that is why there is so much barge traffic.

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The upside of delay was a family visit with my sister, her daughter and new baby hanging out ready to get on with her nap!!

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Even as sun is setting the big barges are still moving….

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Even before arriving back in Galesville for our spring visit we are planning our next adventure. The next adventure is our version of the “Loop.” We will depart directly from the Pentagon Sailing Club event in Oxxford MD heading west on the Erie Canal to Rochester, NY, north across Lake Ontario through the Canadian Trent Severn Canal system.  We will make a brief visit to Georgian Bay heading though the straights of Mackinac to a visit with my folks in Ludington, a visit with a very old friend in Wisconsin returning back east via Detroit and Sandusky, OH. As with any new water we travel there is a certain level anxiety but the accompanying excitement far out weighs. We try and do our homework to be as prepared as we can. Most of all we are excited that for some of the way we will travel with a friends boat and then further on in the trip visiting places and seeing friends and family and having them visit our home. Going to be an exciting summer that is for sure!!!

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Tragic Wake Up Call: I finished this blog a couple of days ago and had yet to get it published. Yesterday we were on our from Hampton, VA to Reedville looking forward to meeting up with some friends we had not crossed paths with in a couple of years. Approaching Reedville Annette heard a PAN-PAN from a boat a couple miles behind us. As the woman related to the Coast Guard ; she and her husband were returning to their home dock have a cruise to NC. It appeared the woman had medical experience and related that her husband had a heart attack and after CPR etc had no signs of life. After the relevant information had been exchanged we called her and offered any assistance she may need. She declined and was focused on getting to their dock in Reedville where appropriate help was waiting. It was a tragedy for sure and reminder to us, you never know the time, so live like it could be soon….btw, the man that passed was 55 years old.

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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