Saturday, January 31, 2009

We Hear The Skiing is Great

Mile 914.2 ~ Indian harbour beach around Dragon point - Too bad I got the water in this shot taken this morning as we first got back on the ICW leaving Vero Beach ( at long last ) and headed north ~ otherwise you might think we were headed to Sugarloaf. It was in the 30's this morning. The other day I was sweating my bejesus off. Don and I have spent a lot time in these exact same outfits moving this boat. The winds were straight out of the north blowing 20 - 30 - the seas on the Indian River were 2 - 3 feet.
It felt good to be underway ~but one of those nice Florida days shouldn't have been too much to ask.
As we undid ourselves from Greg's boat "Southern Cross" Tiller was running around looking back at Greg saying goodbye. He was a great raft mate and we've made a truly great friend. We are eternally grateful for the fabulous homemade lasagna he fed us for our farewell dinner. We have been very lucky with our rafts mates this year and last being to hospitable to Tiller.

As we continued up the waterway giving our opinion of every oversized home Tiller decided he was ticked off clearly in a bad mood. He finally curled up in his basket and didn't move until we got through the bridge in the Banana River where we have anchored. It feels good to be "on the hook" again though sort of humorous that we couldn't remember how to tie a rolling hitch for the snubber line. We got out the book and literally held it out on the bow as we worked together to tie the knot ~ that's when you know you've been in Velcro Beach too long.

Don,Greg & Mary ~ Big house ~ Seagull that followed us for an hour; herd of pelicans

Friday, January 30, 2009

A Gorgeous Day - 35 degrees tonight?

Vero ~ Yesterday was a gorgeous day - in the mid 80's ~ sunny ~ breezy. Last evening was one of those evenings that was just pefect. The air temperature was warm to stay in a t-shirt, there were no bugs , a decent sunset and beautiful stars. The kind of evening I'm sure many of you think we experence all the time. We sat out in the cockpit talking with our neighbor Greg well into the evening. Even after we got into the bunk it was the first night in a long time we had the hatch wide open. I lay awake thinking about going home and being cold and being closed in . When we started this trip last year one of the things I got frustrated with was the weather ~ our exposure ~ vulnerability ~ how it often dictated what we did or didn't do.
Now I appreciate it. I realize that even in nicer weather when we live in a house we don't pay enough attention to the sunrise and sunset. Most of us don't pay attention to the wind exept when it really gets in our way. It's quite a force this weather thing. I'm not saying I will like it when it's windy I think I'm just trying to say that camping on this boat makes me aware of my surroundings, not listening to the TV news all the time ads peace and moving at 5 miles an hour allows us to see details that we won't want to forget.

Today it's rain, wind and dropping temperatures - it's currently 70 ~ here is what is in the weather forcast for tonight ~ "Tonight
Clear and cold. Lows in the upper 30s. Northwest winds 10 to 15 mph. Lowest wind chill readings 30 to 33 after midnight."

So yesterday was about as hot as I can stand it ( I am a heat wimp ) and tonight will get us primes for our move north. Yikes all those warm clothes are packed in the car !

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Headed North

Vero Beach ~One of my favorite lines is that the only thing that is certain is that everything changes. We are headed North instead of South , taking our boat to Satellite beach then driving back to Maine. We had been dawdling because we have been talking about giving up our trip since way back in Georgetown , SC when we first learned that Don’s cousin John ~ our dear friend and "brother" to Don had bladder cancer. We want to be home to help him with the challenges ahead. Sailing can wait for next year or this summer ~ Maybe the O’day 22 lawn ornament we have in Maine will get put in the water this year and we’ll have some great summer sailing.

Don flew Monday to Richmond ~ thank you so much Bob & Sara for moving our car and having Don overnight ~ Gratefully Don’s trip back to the boat was uneventful.
I spent 2 nights alone on the boat – cleaning, packing, pulling things apart. A big job and not easy while floating. We have been taking stuff by dingy and inventorying what we will leave on the boat. We have never left a boat in Florida and never left a bot in the water so Don has been varnishing to help protect the wood from the summer sun. I believe we will put a dehumidifier in the boat and white tarp over as much as we can. WE’ll leave canned goods and some sodas and things – storing them below the water line. Truth is we have been cleaning nooks and crannies that really could have used cleaning !

Tiller is very good at packing :) ~ We leave Vero on Saturday ~ a wonderful couple Don met here in Vero are allowing us to keep our boat on their dock for a reasonable fee. It will be interesting as we hear there may not be quite enough water to get us all the way to the dock.

So back to my previous post about this cruising thing being about friends, the ones we already knew, the ones we have come to know and the ones we haven’t yet met. As we passed the word we needed to leave we have had many offers of help including Ron and Dawn on "Dawntreader" who will help us get our car to the boat once we leave Vero. We have also found several cruisers with information about bladder cancer that will help us give John information and options.
Now I just need to figure out how to bottle this sunshine and warmth and take it back to Maine ~Brrrrrr

Monday, January 26, 2009

Tea Time,Great Friends & I finally get it

Vero Beach~ While I was in Maine at Christmas Don made some new friends here in Vero including Bill and Fran on "Tea Time" sailing a 26' Seafarer - Homeport -Starks Maine. They didn't sail the boat down but had it trucked to somewhere in Florida and do intend to go further. I think every single boat we have met from Maine has been a good looking boat. This is a beauty - Bill and Fran restored it but the day Don and I had tea with Bill while Fran was in Maine caring for her father who was ill, I came to appreciate what a huge boat I live on. This boat is tiny ! Bill and Fran have met so may great friends here that Saturday they cooked a wonderful lunch for 10 of us ~ chicken Marsala - they accomplished this feat on shore - it was great fun and a further bonding moment for a group of us here .
Of course the truth is most of these friends go by our boat in their dingy's and we hear them say - "oh hi Tiller" - it is all about Tiller the famous dingy cat - we had to set him adrift yesterday as we needed to do some varnishing and keep his little paws out of the wet varnish. His love for that little boat is hard to resist - he and I are alone this afternoon and he has been in the dingy meowing so strong our neighbor even popped his head out to see what was up ! You can see we are having beautiful weather - I finally get why people want to be snowbirds. I always thought is was so corny - something truthfully I didn't know anything about - also I was a skier - or still am just haven't been skiing lately - I don't mind winter as much as Don does - It gets terribly long around April when other states are having spring and November and December can be hard to take when it gets dark at 4 PM or so. But it has its moments - wonderful white snow storms so pristine and fun. That said ~ as I've been walking to the ocean beach day and feeling the pleasant warmth of the sun on my skin - holding my head high with no winter clothes to be cocooned into I finally get that is just feels good to be where it's warm and it feels easier to say "hello" to passers by. I do think boating is like a lot of activities where the commonality makes friendship nearly instantaneous. We have met friends with big boats, little boats, used to have big careers, little careers - it doesn't matter - we share something in common, tell stories and hope to see each other again along the way.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

More about the boat

Vero Beach, FL ~ I know it's hard to believe but we are incredibly busy - I just don't seem to get to this blog every day though things roll around in my head to blog about. We have had an incredible social life since Christmas which ads to the busyness but also ads to the fun and we have met some really great friends here. ~As promised here is a little more about the boat. This photo is of our living room, dining room, cat carrier space, family/game room with entertainment area, our pantry, media storage, sometimes dance hall, furnace room ,lounge ~ otherwise called the "main saloon";front hallway ( that houses our hanging closet and a set of "drawers" for clothing storage), master bedroom, and library reading room~ . When we bought the boat the dining table was fixed. Don took it apart, added the wine rack and game closet now the table folds up when we don't need it to give us more space. The next photo is our state of the art kitchen and opposite that is our navigation station. The galley takes some getting used to. A 2 burner gas stove with oven but we've never used the oven We have a grill outside that has been a life saver. One the counter note the two square covers - that is our refrigerator. We have the bottom lined with soda cans that we don't use to help keep in cold - it is a real fridge but we add ice as well because the fridge is our largest power hog on the boat. We discovered this year that if we keep the fridge less provisioned we actually don't lose as much food. We try to go to farmers markets whenever possible. Cooking on the boat can be fun and makes us use our imaginations as we rarely have all the ingredients we would have at home. Yes there are days the space gets small but we are off the boat almost everyday including traveling along - which as you can see we haven't done for quite a while. As I write this Don is in the bunk reading and I am standing at the nav station on the computer - so it works. We have worked on the boat today - varnishing some of the railings, done laundry and I walked to the ocean beach. It is a glorious warm day in Vero beach - the beach was actually full. The first time I have seen that but I have discovered that if a light jacket is needed it is way too cold for the natives. We do have room to entertain both in and outside - this third photo is of our recent dinner guests Mike and Georgia Dunn - my brother's inlaws who are here on their beautiful Island Packet sailboat - We have suffered some real cold here in Vero - 32 for several nights in a row so this evening we were all enjoying our heater which finally seems to work really well. So you see we can have a lot of fun on this really small space - which brings me to Fran and Bill ~ it's all in the perspective - they are from Maine - here on their 27 (beautiful) but only 27 foot boat !! Holy Cow as they say in Maine !

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Bird's Eye View

Margaret always writes the blogs and as I was looking over some older posts, I noticed Birds Eye View and saw that she didn't have the time to write that day.

In the photo, on the left side is my foot against the mast. Heron is directly below me and Southern Cross is in the foreground. Tiller's dinghy is tied to Heron.
I've been up mast before and this occassion was to do some repairs to our VHF radio which didn't have more that about a 2 mile range. These radios should be good for at least 10 miles or more. After checking to see if there was any interferance in the cable, I suspected the connection on the very top of the mast where the antenna is connected was the problem. With our neighbor Greg's help, we hoisted my 6'2" frame up to the top with a climbing harness and the mast halyard which we connected to one of my large self tailing winches.

It was a slow but easy ride to the top and I had some tools with me. After dismantleing the antenna I discovered a bit of corrosion in the connection. With some sandpaper, file, WD 40, and about an hour's work, I was ready to put it all back together. I then yelled down to Greg and asked him to try the radio. When he came back out from the navigation station he said he had just spoken to Tow Boat US out of Ft. Pierce. That was 15 miles away!!

The trip down was pretty easy and I had no concerns being up 50' overlooking my vessel and the rest of the anchorage. Pretty nice view from up there.

The only problem I had once I got down is that I lost most of my feelings in my legs and feet as the straps on the harness cut into my legs. Instead of resting and waiting to let the circulation to come back, I began jumping around the boat finishing some other projects and then torn a leg muscle which left me lame for about 3 days. It was very painful but fortunately, no permanent damage. I will stick to the bosun chair on the next ride up to the top, or better still, send Margaret up the next time!

Welcome Aboard

Welcome aboard followers ~ I have to admit when I noticed the first follower it felt really funny. I started this blog with my parents in mind – My Dad will be 90 this year and my mother 85 ~ they can no longer go to their once loved place in the sun and to say the Vermont winters are long is a very large understatement. I am a lousy correspondent these days – on the phone and computer so much for work they’ve lost their charm for personal correspondence. I come from a very large family and thought this journal would be a wonderful way to keep in touch . A wonderful way for us to document our trip. Last year as hard as I tried to send group emails it just didn’t work for me.
I know when you put anything out on the web it is open for all to read and in the case of our business web site that is a real plus. In the case of the blog it feels different but I have been writing this right along knowing there were people I was unaware of reading along.
I try to keep my business and personal life separated and have purposely not shared the blog with most of my clients and have in a few cases asked friends not to pass it along. I really don’t need all my renters chatting it up with me all summer about what I did all winter ! I have wondered at times if I should write more about the navigation and other things that would help fellow sailors but have chosen to simply write a personal journal that I hope my parents and family will read and be entertained by and if others think it’s fun to travel the waters of the east coast vicariously then that’s just great.
You will also enjoy the blog of our friends Dick and Libby Mills aboard "Tarwathy" another Westsail 32 – they are full time live-a-boards and I know no one who is more pleased with what he has chosen to do in retirement than Dick. Be sure to look at the Everglades City photos and scroll down and read every word of his Jan 15th post ! Great fun. If you click his photos they will enlarge – then just click the back key. Be sure to note how fancy the Rod & Gun club are – a great out loud laugh at Dick’s expense but the good news is he has a wonderful sense of humor you will see all through his blog. So ride along and we’ll look forward to hearing from you and yes – knowing the world is reading – we will all keep it PG – a good reminder for my dear brothers.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Tiller the dingy cat !

Vero Beach - Monday ~ This was the day we were to head for Stuart but as often happens with sailors just floating their way no where ~ we changed our minds. Another cold front is going to come through putting us in the 30's at night. This mooring field in Vero is narrow compared to Stuart so if there is any wind at all we feel we'll be warmer here. This cat of ours is a real character - we have been blessed to be rafted to Greg and Mary aboard "Southern Cross" Greg has graciously come to the point of becoming Tiller's Uncle - Tiller's island has expanded to two and he is not tied up any more while aboard. When Greg first arrived Don tried his best to keep Tiller on Heron but to little avail. Greg tells us when we first open the hatch boards in the morning Tiller skips right over along his rub rail, across the cock pit to the stern of his boat and sometimes into his dingy just to check out what might be in the water on that side of our little flotilla. Tiller is not a big lap cat though he has his moments. When we first set sail in the Chesapeake , it was cold and the wind was blowing he clung to us like glue ~ cuddled like a baby. He's like that teenage boy who snubs his parents when they want a hug but in the quiet moments climbs right up on his dad's lap. Greg says Tiller tolerates him ( he better ! ) but just skips off as he tries to pet him. They had a guest and Tiller jumped right on the lap of the man and stayed there for hours - on our boat when Teri and Neal realized we were in the anchorage they stopped by - we invited them aboard for a glass of wine - Tiller immediately leaned against Neal and looked for affection. I'm not one to assume you love my cat and please don't ever assume I love your dog so I tried to move Tiller - Neal said it was ok and Teri laughed with glee - Turns out Teri had been pushing for a boat cat and Neal was the "no" man. Isn't it great Tiller sniffed that out? 2 years ago I had knee surgery ~
Tiller sits on my lap far less than Don's but that day when I came home from surgery to sleep off the drugs - mid day - he climbed on the bed and gently lay against my injured leg - all afternoon. This is a cat who at home is allowed to run free outdoors. Quite something at times watching him. This photo is Sunday after Don and I came back from a long walk and wonderful lunch on Waldo's right on the beach ~ see the waitress in the orange that was our table - perfect ! mahi mahi Jamaican spiced sandwich with fabulous fattening spicy fries for $9.95 a bargain even before you factor in the location. (anyone know how to get rid of that underline? - this program has a mind of it's own sometimes - I have no clue how that got underlined. ) When we came back Tiller was calling out for a dingy ride - so we let him hop in - he and Don toured the mooring field - Tiller sits right up like a dog would and just sniffs out the world. He loves it - seriously loves it - when they got back Tiller was calm, came in the boat for the night before dark - rarely does that happen. So who knows what goes on in that little mind of his other than that he knows for sure he is in charge.
Don at Waldos on the beach, Tiller's World, Falmingo Lane another beautiful little dirt lane in the neighborhood

Sunday, January 18, 2009

The Neighborhood

This is a really pleasant neighborhood right in the back yard of the marina. I have managed to get a nice walk in every day since I've been back. The streets are beautifully lined with live oak trees that often create a covering shade canopy - some have moss hanging down creating a wonderful picture. The homes are mostly understated and usually have lots of shade plants and occasionally fences to maintain privacy from the street but as I walk I can often peek through and see they have nice backyards with pools. This ocean beach with 1/4 mile long boardwalk is just a 3/4 mile easy walk from the dingy dock. The beach and boardwalk are part of a large public park. this photo faces north - if I walk south another 1/4 mile I am in the boutique and hotel part of Vero - not very interesting but still pleasant to walk or ride our bikes through. Ice cream cones go for a lot of dough though. Florida is flat ~ the only hills I can find are the beach stairs so I try to go up and down those a few times to work my thighs and my ever healing knee. As I left the beach yesterday I walked down "Live Oak" blvd, ironically not a single live oak on it - I turned left on Kumquat and not a single kumquat tree - but it reminded me of the older couple I sat next to on the plane from JFK to palm Springs. They had a tree as their carry on. The gentleman was in the isle seat and tried to squeeze it between his feet. The stewardess offered to take it up front for him ~ for those who haven't flown Jet Blue - one of the friendliest airlines around ~ He had a strong accent - I think perhaps Greek I'm really not sure - but they were from Westport , CT and he explained to me his friend grew the small tree in his greenhouse and gave it to him as a gift. They owned a Fairfield County huge home that cost $45,000. a year to maintain. He assured me that meant everything - tax, insurance, utilities etc. They sold that home a few years ago (lucky him ) and bought a condo in Westport and a home in West Palm FL in a gated community. He was very funny , I had to strain to understand him but he told me that they are not allowed fruit bearing trees in the gated community due to pests. He previously had a kumquat tree in his yard that the powers at be cut down. This gated community thing bores him and by April he is more than ready to go home, still involved at 80 in the family business - so this is his fun- to see if he can get away with keeping his new tree - this time in a pot - the story was told with such glee and mischief I really got a kick out of him.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Who ever thought a Honda could be so loved?

Vero beach - Here I sit blissfully plugged into an outlet on the boat and using my computer for a s long as I want ! We are cool this morning in the high 40's but now in the 50's so I am making a big pot of chili to share tonight with 2 of our neighboring boats. The day after we spent 1/2 a day trying to get work done at the library we ran into some great friends from last year - Teri and Neal - we originally met them here in Vero but really got to know them during our month in Stuart. They invited us for dinner. Boats ~ everything about how to live aboard is always the topic of conversation. Teri and Neal have a new boat - a beautiful dark blue bigger than their previous boat - the subject of power came up and my frustration with the need to be on the computer so many hours a day - Voila - they were selling a Honda 1000 generator because their new boat needed a 2000. We borrowed it the next day to decide if we wanted it or not and if it would work with our battery charger ampage ( if i get the technical stuff wrong - it's ok - I've tried to get Don to blog and he just hasn't yet - so stuff like what kind of boat Neal has will stay as blue for now ! ) It charges our batteries without having to run our diesel motor but in addition it provides me with electricity on the boat, it's unbelievably quiet and it burns 1/2 gallon of gas in 8 hours or something like that. In my book ~ things are looking up.
I have been really busy with my cottage rentals work and it takes hours on the computer to keep after every inquiry and work on the web site and the web advertising - it all takes lots of time - this is my busiest time with the reservations so I put the blog aside to be sure to keep (If you click that link you wll have to push the back button to return to the blog ) up and running and taking every opportunity to get every reservation possible. We are behind last year but pleased so far that there is as much activity as there is.

So many other things have kept us running it seems. In addition to spending a whole day figuring out the generator thing, I came back to Vero to discover Tiller is famous - more people know him than us. Don has made lots of friends and now we have invite after invite. My brother Charlie is married to a wonderful person - Julie - her parents also arrived this week. We had a very nice dinner and visit on their boat last night ( Mike & Georgia ) They have a wonderful enclosure in the cockpit of the boat so even with the 30 knot winds we were warm visiting outside.

While I was away Don started taking Tiller to shore and given he is on a leash creates quite a stir. He just loves everyone and tends to snub is if others are around. Greg & Mary aboard "Southern Cross" are now our raft mates and they let Tiller rule the roost over there as well. He hops in and out of the dingy and if others come along side he'll hop right in.

This morning just as I was turning on the gas for coffee a couple came alongside to say hello - a friend in common, Martha Story - sent them our way. Anne & Don are their names - they came to say hi to "Killer" It took Don a minute to get it - "Tiller" - the westsail has a tiller not a wheel - not sure anyone would neame thier cat killer - but anyway - wonderful to meet another couple from the northern Neck of Virginia - one of our favorite places - the story of how we met the Story's is a good one and I'll post that one of these days. As you can see we are keeping busy and aren't the least bit lonely !

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The Dingy Dock

Vero Beach - Here is the craziness of the dingy dock. Competition is stiff for a spot to park the dingy - the anchorage is out that canal and to the left and the right. If I can find the cable to my camera I will hike up the bridge at the far end and get a picture of the whole anchorage.

We are supposed to wiggle our dingy in between the other boats who were supposed to leave the line (painter) tied to the dock at least a boat length long so that boat will pull out into the canal while we get close enough to unload and load. We are always carrying something - garbage, laundry, groceries,computers,water jugs. Hardly a trip is wasted without thinking about what has to come off or on the boat. Many boaters do not leave a long line and it's a real pain in the #$%@ - it's hard enough being fairly agile and getting in and out of these dingys. Many of these cruisers are not agile and it makes for great people watching. The wonderful thing is after a trip tot own the bus stops right at the dingy dock - doesn't get better than that.
Yesterday someone - obviously new - left their motor in the up position and tied his boat in the bow and the stern causing several problems. The first is he took up enough space for 3 or 4 boats and the second is his motor had this wing like thing on it sticking out just ripe for scratching the side of our hard dingy or puncturing one of the rubber dingies. You hate to touch someone elses property but one guy left them and note on the only scrap of paper he had - part of an empty soda carton and Don got in the dingy and put the guys' motor down. It's a bit of a dance to share the dock, the small "lounge" , the showers, the laundry and it works well when everyone is upbeat and helpful and follows the few protocols but we have noticed there are a few really unhappy people out here and dingy dock doesn't bring out their most charming side. (Funny thing I have noticed those few are often women - hmmm maybe this cruising life wasn't their idea!) :) Now don't take that too seriously - read the next blog !!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

I'm Back.....

Vero Beach ~ January 13th 2009 ~ I thought it might be fun for you to see how we live on this boat ~ as I've mentioned earlier we are sailing/living on a Westsal 32 ~ It's a stout , heavy boat for it's size weighing in at around 22,000. lbs. She feels safe - not that you need to feel safe sitting on a mooring in Vero Beach Florida ! But that overnight passage we did from
Savannah to Fernandina Beach - it was comforting to have a boat that as it slammed up and down in the waves didn't feel like it was going to fall apart. Having just been home in Maine and visiting family inVermont i had the opportunity to talk to some people who had no idea about baot living. A 32 foot boat - wow - do you have a captain - yup we do - Don and a crew - yup me and a cat. I guess if you have only sailed a sailfish 32' seems large - it's all in the perspective. ~~well that was interesting -~~we were at the library trying to get a lot of computer work done - a storm blew through, power out and we had to leave - 2 hours later we are back on the boat drying our outer wear and back on battery only power -
Boat living can be a fun adventure but at the moment I am readjusting to the space and the need to dingy everywhere and the lack of shore power. The library example is just one - lost 1/2 a day of time and got nothing done - but did it really need to be done yesterday or is today soon enough?

Thursday, January 1, 2009

I Miss You

Bayside, Maine 1/1/09 !! - 2 degrees - 25 mile an hour winds Brrrrr! Yes Don is still in FL and I am still in Maine so this is an old photo taken on our family's Christmas Tree in Vermont.
I miss you my sweet love ~ and am looking forward to the warmth ! Come on...we want some photos of Tiller - or at least an adventure of Tiller - I hear he's become a great fan of the dingy maybe I can drum up an old photo!!...shoot they are on my lap top ...